Thursday, March 22, 2012


Cause, effect, or a process of the two? 
   Stress is a term that is very commonly used, yet difficult to define. Each and every one of us has experienced some degree of stress, and most likely deal with it day to day, yet do we really understand this influx of homeostasis? Is stress more psychological, physical or emotional? Does it cause the body and mind to change or is it a result of changes to the mind and body? 


How much control do we really have over stress? 
   Stress does not discriminate based on age, sex, color, socioeconomic status or wealth. It starts affecting us in the womb and has the ability to be present till death. It is easy to downplay the emotional stress of a child before realizing that as we age we develop the coping skills necessary to deflect stress throughout life. Children can not rationalize and comprehend the psychological and emotional changes they feel. Adults often struggle with these coping skills too. I myself had an inordinate amount of stress this past year and thankfully had the ability to be open enough to learn the skills necessary to survive. 
 Psycological affecting the Pysiological
(mind -> body)
   Our bodies are amazing machines, incredible to think that mind thoughts can change our physical state. A wonderful way to portray what capability emotional stress can affect your physical body is the PH example. Our bodies have a normal range of PH, or alkalinity. It is usually desired to be in a more alkaline state verses an acidic state. This can be controlled by many factors, but mainly diet. When entered into a stressful state, PH drops and the body instantly becomes acidic.  

Physiological affecting the Psycological
(body -> mind)
   There are many medical conditions that can cause the mind to be stressed. Any situation that results in a change of neurotransmitters and chemicals in the brain can result in psychological stress. Or consider a physical injury that inhibits someone to do things they normally could, this could result in an emotional stress. 
Cortisol is a steroid hormone produced by the adrenal gland as a response to stress. It is an extremely interesting hormone that I am learning more about. Cortisol's primary functions are to regulate blood sugar, suppress the immune system and aid in metabolism of fats, proteins and carbohydrates. Unbalanced, this hormone plays a role in the belly fat that can arise from stress and the inability to fall asleep at night and be alert in the morning.

Worrying is a waste of your imagination
         Has your mind ever been taken over by a stressful situation? That runaway feeling of the mind, when there is a constant stream of out of control thoughts that run through every possibility that could arise from your situation. The repetitive mind pattern that keeps us up at night. It's a treadmill sort of effect, interrupted sleep causes disruptive cortisol levels, increased stress and unclear thoughts that alter perception of reality.
  The Power of Now , a book by Eckart Tolle, is an amazing reference on how to become conscious and gain control over the process of thought. It was life changing for me to be able to quiet the constant stream of thoughts. Let me share with you some of the ideas; 

To find peace, become conscious of the mind. Start to be aware of the times that your mind is talking. Separate yourself from the mind, look at the stream of thought in kind of a humerous way, as if saying, "there you are again". You'll find that this disarms the thought process and little pockets of quiet start to emerge. These breif moments have the ability to grow as you become more concious.

Know that worry is truly a waste of imagination. You are imaginng things that have not happened yet and you have no way of knowing how a situation will result. Do not worry, do not imagine the worst case scenerio. All that arises passes away. 
Offer no resistance to what is.
Allow the present moment to be and
 to accept the impermanent nature of all conditions.
(E. Tolle)

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Continuing to Learn

As I prepare for my trip to Boston to participate in a two day seminar with Mary Osborne, I am called to reflect on the importance of continuing education.

  I am a health care professional. With my official title belongs a responsibility to gain updated and accurate information. If my learning had stopped when I left college I would still be "cleaning teeth". Thankfully I've had amazing mentors, begining with my Mother, a practicing dental hygienist for over 30 years. She installed my enthusiasm for dental health while I was still in school. We would take advantage of family dinners during college break to hash out the best ways to address agressive periodontal disease or pregnancy gingivitis while everyone else at the dinner table cringed! Moving through my career, that enthusiasm propelled me to where I am today.

My philosophy is to search for the impact that will lead each and every one of my patients towards living a healthier life.

Continuing education is required for all health care professionals in the nation. It's purpose is to ensure that licenced providers keep updated and current with consistent guidelines and information, yet curiously the only strictly required courses for dental hygienists are CPR , "Preventing Medical Errors" and "Domestic Violence".

Going beyond the required is an individual choice that separates the lacksadsial professional from one who passionately cares.

This week Mary Osborne, a leader in effective communication and facilitation, is offering a course in Boston called Continuing to Care, A Team Approach to Periodontal Therapy. Her co-instructor, Dr. Mike McDevitt, is one of the best periodontist in the Country that intends to incorporate the latest information on periodontal disease and treatment. I'm looking forward to gaining new information that I'll be able to use when I get back to work next week. The most impactfull course I took was with a local Key's dentist. He is the one who passed on the information about sleep apnea. Now that was life saving information that didn't require me to travel far.

Regardless of what area of health care you are in, extended learning could be the most important thing you do for the progression and vitality of your career. It keeps me motivated and passionate about health care!