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The Paradox of Stress Management

Life can be a handful.  Even when things are going their very best we have all sorts of things to sort out, decisions to make, regrets to experience, all that.  Every day is a journey and a lesson.

When we are able to manage the challenges of the day these stresses keep us going, keep us healthy.  We look back at what we accomplished with satisfaction.

However when we get into a situation where a solution is just not evident we can feel confused, overwhelmed, even scared.  This is an important part of life’s journey.  It’s what makes us what we are. Learning to deal with pressure gracefully is a wonderful experience we strive for.

All that’s when things go well.  Still every one of us has things happen in life that don’t go so well and create challenges to our bodies, our minds, and our spirits.

If you are reading this you are either a Dental clinician or close to someone who is. You know what we have taken on, what we are trying to do. How hard we’ve tried, how lucky we feel to get to bear this yoke.

And you are probably a sensitive person, touched deeply by the pain and strife of others.  When things get out of balance and problems persist, or just solving them really shakes us up, it’s healthy to use diversions to give our minds a break and ourselves the chance to enjoy life.

We all know many of the ways folks use for such.  Can be physical like exercise or mental like reading.  Comfort foods make us feel comfy. Retail therapy works for a bit.  And yes we can use chemical means like a drink or a pill or a puff etc.  Just “getting out of yourself” by gardening or caring for others works well.

All of these ways and many more can be just fine, a healthy release, a change of gears.   But here’s the thing.  Moderation.  Darn it.  Every one of these stress management strategies has the potential to develop into a really serious life problem.  Just look out the window. We all know people whose lives were defined by these things getting out of control.  Overeating, gambling, drugs, sex and yes the whole wonder of the internet can sure divert our course.  Some people do nothing with their days except go to AA meetings.  They aren’t drinking, but is that a recovered life?

How do we know when we have a problem that needs attention as much as a stab wound?  It’s actually pretty easy.  But it only matters when you do it for yourself.  Not what you read or have been told.

Using a stress strategy is not a problem. It is an adult decision. Dependence is not a problem if you are ok with it.  Nonetheless addiction is something that most can agree is a Problem.  But what is it?

If I decide that some behavior of mine is overall a harmful thing for me and make a decision to stop, that’s healthy.  But if I find myself doing it again anyway, that’s about as diagnostic as any condition gets.  It’s just a matter of time until the progressions happen.

 When I had friends and family tell me they quit calling me to do things because I was always off somewhere playing Tennis, I had to look in the mirror.   I have set what I consider a reasonable limit for each week.  It’s a good struggle but you get the idea.  Even healthy diversions can take on a life on their own, and take your life with it.

All this is so common, almost universal.  A lot of people have suffered, but a lot of us have been able to relate this to each other and develop ways to live our best lives.

I don’t see the State Board coming after us for being too fat in the chair, but they can not stand by if one of us develops a condition that could impair our ability to treat patients safely. That’s their responsibility and they do it.  The people at the NC Caring Dental Professionals know this stuff inside out and really have helped many good Doctors and Hygienists enjoy their full careers despite losing their control of a stress management strategy.