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But it doesn’t Hurt: Patients Rely on Pain

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Your sitting next to the patient waiting for their response. You’ve done it right.  Showed them all the x-rays with the bone loss. Described the hygienist’s findings of 5-6 mm pockets, bleeding, the pus. Providing them a pamphlet of periodontal disease and the oral-systemic consequences was the final touch in gaining their buy-in for their condition. You wait knowing their silence is due to years of other dentists diagnosing a ‘regular cleaning’ and the shock a scaling and root planing can have on this kind of patient. You know they’re about to speak …you ready…

“But it doesn’t hurt!”: Patients rely on pain

You’ve had this situation before. A patient walks out of your office without getting the necessary treatment because it’s obviously not important or worth spending money unless it hurts. You try with all your education, knowledge, evidence, and experience to convenience them otherwise. You tell them how important it is to address it now because when things start to hurt they get more expensive. Blah blah declined treatment waiver and they walk out.

I recently had the same experience with an inquisitive doctor. They took the stress assessment quiz at my website and were questioning their results. After emailing me several questions about how they doubted the results this doc ended as most patients/clients do, “But it doesn’t hurt.

Here are the realities of stress and why you should take the same advice you give to your clients/patients every day.

Hits the body first

Stress is a biological reaction that has numerous physiological consequences. It hits the body first before we have emotional or psychological weights to carry around. The constant trigger of the stress cycle flips the on the switch to many of the processes and systems that regulate eating, sleep, concentration, focus, and digestion. Most people notice daily headaches, insomnia, constipation, cravings, and irritability but rarely equate it to the level of stress they have in their life. Your body suffers the consequences of stress before you have cognition around it.

Know Your Stress™ is the first step in any stress management program.  When you are aware of the kind of stress you are under and the early warning signs, you can thread in coping methods that are the appropriate response and level of intervention necessary to treat your condition.

Small signs before dire consequences

Stress is a slow, progressing condition with small signs before creating dire consequences (sound familiar?). Addressing stress when it’s small makes it manageable, less costly, and requires minimum amounts of time and energy. Ignoring, avoiding, and waiting to address your stress until later then requires more intervention which ups the price tag and along with everything else.

Assess Your Stress™ is an important step in diagnosing as well as monitoring your condition. You don’t know if things are getting worse, better, or staying status quo if you don’t have regular checks.

Moment of truth

There always comes that moment of truth, whether patient or client, that you can’t deny. You’ve let your condition go on for too long. No matter how hard you try you can’t keep it a secret there is no more masking. People comment on your appearance and repeatedly ask if ‘things are alright?’ The moment of truth hits you like a ton of bricks and you know you need to see a professional for some advice and treatment.   

The Treatment Plan

As I said earlier, presenting treatment to someone who only relies on the pain of their condition to guide their response to treatment is difficult. You pull out all the stops, use all your tools to provide evidence so that they will accept what must happen in order to turn things around. If you find yourself coming to terms with your level of stress and wanting to do something about it now before it gets worse, here’s your treatment plan:

  1. Get educated. Just like your patients can’t change their health condition until they get educated, you can’t start managing your stress until you learn more about it.  Continue reading blogs or sign up for a stress reduction course.
  2. Expand your network. Studies show that when people get stressed, especially males, they seclude themselves from others. This is exactly what you shouldn’t do during times of stress. Expand your network by joining a mastermind group.  Consider one through Jen Butler Inc called stressLESS Mastermind Alliance™ where you will learn from your peers on ways to reduce stress, build your practice, and save relationships along the way. You’ll also have the expertise of your facilitator to teach you permanent coping methods to manage your stress.
  3. Breathe differently. The science behind how you breathe is clear. When you’re stressed you take in less oxygen, which sets you up to feel the effects of your stress even more. Reduce stress before it hurts by doing Progressive Muscle Relaxation every morning and evening. You tell your patients to attend to their teeth twice a day, you can do the same for your stress levels. Learn how to use PMR as a proactive stress tool even in your office in the Library.

Let me know if this article helped by leaving a comment. Don’t forget to share!

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