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When we're stressed, we can make stupid decisions. That's based on science, not just anecdotes.

Holly Anne Mitchell is the founder of the LeadWell Network and the former CEO of Central Park West Dentistry. As a leadership coach for dentists, she inspires strategic entrepreneurship and confident leadership. In this interview with Patient Prism CEO Amol Nirgudkar, Holly describes effective ways to combat anxiety and depression. Best of all, these are strategies that dentists can teach their teams and teach their patients to reduce stress and empower effective decision-making.


Why Are Some People Calm and Others Anxious?

“People can go through the same experience and feel completely different,” said Holly Anne Mitchell. “One might feel anxious and have a rapid heartbeat, racing thoughts, sweaty palms and a dry mouth. Another could feel depressed, paralyzed, and have no desire to interact with others. And still other people might go through the same tough experience and feel ok. They’re able to brush it off as a tough day and bounce back.”

The reaction has to do with each person’s Zone of Tolerance, Mitchell explained. Some people are born with a nervous system that is genetically wired to be more prone to anxiety, depression and mental health challenges. They naturally have a smaller Zone of Tolerance.

In addition to nature, nurture also plays a role. Babies that are cuddled regularly feel secure in having their basic needs met, and as adults will be more likely to have neurochemicals like oxytocin, serotonin, and dopamine which wash away the cortisol hormones that cause high levels of stress.

Babies and children also mimic the behavior of the people around them. Children who saw their parents or caregivers feeling anxious, stressed, or depressed or more likely to grow up to be adults that feel the same way.


6 Techniques to Interrupt Patterns of Anxiety

In the video, Holly Mitchell demonstrates six techniques that can reprogram the brain to halt “anxious thoughts” and help you get you get back into the right headspace to handle the stressful situation.

The best part? You can teach these techniques to your dental patients with anxiety, too.

  1. Bilateral Stimulation: Feelings of anxiety reside in the lower right hemisphere of the brain, while effective decision-making skills reside in the front of the brain. When you feel panicked, redirect attention to the right hemisphere and front of the brain by grabbing your phone or any object and passing it from hand to hand while following it with your eyes. Even just going for a walk helps reset your brain and diffuse anxiety.
  2. Havening: This looks like you’re giving yourself a hug. There are nerve endings right under the surface of your skin cells on the upper body. When you apply pressure there, it creates delta waves, which are the same brain waves you have during deep REM sleep, and helps the body relax.
  3. Meditation: This reduces brain wave frequencies from a fast beta pattern (stress) to a slower alpha (focus and concentration).
  4. Stand up and breathe deep: Sitting cuts off the oxygen supply to the vagus nerve, which is the nerve that stimulates positive hormones.
  5. Flossing: Just another reason everyone should floss! It requires bilateral stimulation to move the floss up and down, plus requires you to lower your jaw, which reduces stress.
  6. Emotional Freedom Technique: In the video, Holly Anne Mitchell demonstrates how you can tap on acupuncture points in the body to stimulate positive brainwave frequencies and release the “positive chemicals” called serotonin and dopamine.

A free guide for your team to reduce broken appointments on the phone.

Techniques to Interrupt Patterns of Depression

  1. Get active: Even just getting out of bed, going for a walk, or doing any kind of exercise helps fight depression. Be sure to get your heart rate up and a good sweat going.
  2. Dance & Sing: Moving your body and singing along with your favorite band will lift your spirits.
  3. Spicy Food: Eating spicy food can cause your brain to produce serotonin and other “happy hormones.”
  4. Breath of Fire: This is an intense breathing exercise recommended by world-renowned leadership coach Tony Robbins. In the video, Holly Anne Mitchell shows how to use this technique.
  5. Laugh: Watching cat videos on YouTube really can be good for you. When you laugh, you increase the amount of oxygen you’re taking in, which stimulates your heart and other organs and increases the endorphins released by your brain.

Complimentary Expert Advice for Dental Practices

Additional Resources

To reach Holly Anne Mitchell, visit www.LeadWellNetwork.com. She has great ideas on verbiage dentists and teams can use to effectively communicate with each other and with patients during times of stress.

For more ideas on how to overcome stress, watch our video with Jen Butler, a stress management expert, or download her guide for Coping with Unthinkable Stress here.

For more interviews with experts, training resources, and guides, visit Academy.PatientPrism.com.

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