How to Avoid the Stress Monster

A little bit of stress is a normal part of daily life. When stress builds up though, it can be a real monster. High stress levels can lead to teeth grinding, jaw clenching, and temporomandibular joint (TMJ) pain. To dodge these dangerous side effects of stress, give these tips a try.

  1. Reduce your daily stress level. Work is often a huge cause of stress. Taking time to relax during the day can help you think clearly and feel more focused. Sitting at a desk can make your body stiff, so try to take periodic walks throughout the day to wake your body up.
  2. Eat healthy and exercise. Stress levels can be affected by what you put into your body. Ditch the candy corn and replace it with some real corn fruits and veggies, that is. Eating healthier foods and proteins can help lower your stress by offering your body the nutrition it needs to keep energy levels high. Regular exercise also helps reduce stress by releasing various chemicals into your brain like dopamine, producing the feeling of relaxation in the body.2 This will make you happier, and less stressed!
  3. Try stretching and relaxing your face, neck, and shoulders. There are small stretches and mini massages you can do to loosen up the tension you might be holding in your jaw, which will help avoid clenching. Practice relaxing your muscles until it becomes a habit. That habit will carry over into your sleep hours and potentially keep you from grinding your teeth.1
  4. Avoid distressing your jaw. If your TMJ (jaw joint) hurts, try not to chew gum, tough meat, or other foods that require a lot of effort to grind up. Also, avoid actions that cause discomfort, such as wide yawning, singing or clenching your teeth.

If you try these techniques and your jaw problems persist, you should see a dentist or physician to learn what you can do to stop the jaw pain. They can give you special mouthguards which will help keep your jaw from locking up at night and stop your teeth from grinding.1 There are also forms of physical therapy that can help you keep a relaxed mouth.1 Find a solution that works for you and get rid of stress!

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