Stress. If we could, we would wipe this condition out of our lives forever. The fact of the matter is, though, that we do need stress – in small doses. During the holidays, we may forget that the added busyness of the season piles more on our plates, which adds stress that we may not expect. And this may show up in unexpected ways.
Your teeth, and your jaw, could suffer hidden consequences if your stress level rises, and you may not know it right away. What happens when we have stressors to work out is that the mind does so at night. As it does, the body reacts. Often, this reaction involves clenching the jaw or grinding teeth. These habits can result in tooth damage such as chips or fractures. They can also adversely affect the muscles and joints in the jaw. So, as the holidays inch closer, we all do ourselves a big favor by getting mindful about stress management.
What Stress Management Really Looks Like
Experts have been telling us for years that we need to watch our stress levels. But what does that really mean? If you assume that stress-reduction means you have to spend hours every week on a yoga mat or sitting in meditation, you may quickly slough off the idea altogether. Fortunately, there are many ways to cut your stress that don’t involve such activities. You might consider:
- Listening to your favorite music during your workday or lunch hour, or even while you cook dinner.
- Spending time each day in a quiet space at home, looking outside from a warm, cozy spot.
- Taking a few minutes to read that book that’s been sitting on your shelf for months.
Stress can be reduced in a number of ways, but not everything that seems relaxing really is. For instance, some studies have shown that reading a riveting book before bed could stimulate the mind, causing restless sleep. Video games and violent movies do the same. Consuming alcohol, as well, only initially has a sedative effect. A few hours after those cocktails, the body is more stimulated, and you may end up grinding your teeth in your sleep.
With the holiday season upon us, we wish our patients the very best!