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December 14, 2011

Cures for the Grinding Holiday Stress

One of the most stressful times of the year is during the holidays.

Between Thanksgiving and New Years, partying and family gatherings are at the top of the list.  But for many, somewhere along the way, the stress, the unrealistic expectations and the unreasonable demands show up; and the next thing you know, you're anxious, depressed, over-tired, and dreading one more day of the so-called "holiday good cheer."

If you have been waking up with your teeth clenched, and your head muscles in painful spasm,
you might seriously consider seeing your dentist for some resolution, before you do some significant harm to your dentition or you temporal mandibular joint (TMJ).

Most people probably grind and clench their teeth from time to time. Occasional teeth grinding (bruxism), does not usually cause harm, but when teeth grinding occurs on a regular basis, significant damage can arise.

Most people are unaware that they grind their teeth. However, a dull,constant headache or sore jaw is a telltale symptom. Many times people learn that they grind their teeth by their loved one who hears them grinding at night.

In some cases, bruxism can result in a fracturing, loosening, or loss of teeth. The chronic grinding or clenching may wear teeth down to stumps. Definitely  not pretty, and real expensive to restore. So prevention really is key here.

I remember one patient told me that she felt she had literally “eaten her teeth away.”  She felt that her entire face had shrunk, making her look much older and more worn than her true age. And her lower teeth were now the same size as grains of rice.

So, not only can severe grinding damage teeth and result in tooth loss, it can also affect your smile, your jaws, your hearing, your TMJ and even change the appearance of your face.

If you suspect you may be grinding your teeth, talk to your dentist. Not only can she examine your mouth and jaw for signs of bruxism, but she can also fabricate a custom night guard to prevent further damage. Bear in mind that not all night guards are the same, so it is important to make sure that your dentist is knowledgeable of the many different types and their usage. Night guards should be comfortable, so if the one you have feels like you are wearing a brick in your mouth, and you won’t wear it because it hurts, it may be time to get that second opinion. Comfort is key if therapy is to be successful.

As for breaking the habit of bruxism, there are some simple natural techniques that we have integrated into your therapy to assist with relaxation and de-stressing. Addressing the anxiety issue, trigger points (tight muscles), and long term habit of clenching, are instrumental in turning this around.

As for the short term holiday season stress, here are some simple things that I recommend to  reduce that stress:

  • Get organized. Make lists or use an appointment book to keep track of tasks to do and events to attend. Once you put it in writing and see a tangible list to work with, you will feel that you have control over your life.

  • Just say no.  It's okay to say "no" to events that aren't important to you. This will give you more time to say "yes" to events that you really do want to attend. You even have permission to say “no” to everything; just to focus on “me time”. The most important investment of your time is resting,  rebuilding and doing what you want, even if you spend this time curled up in bed with a good book. You are still the #1 person to take care of. Not your friends or family.

  • Know your spending limit. Lack of money is one of the biggest causes of stress during the holiday season. Set a budget, and don’t spend more than you've planned. It's okay to tell your child that a certain toy costs too much. Don't buy gifts that you'll spend the rest of the year trying to pay off. Materialism is definitely overrated.

  • Give something personal. You can show love and caring with any gift that is meaningful and personal. It doesn't have to cost a lot. Write personal notes and let people know how important they are to you. Home baked goods packaged prettily are a definite winner.

  • Share the tasks. You don't have to do everything yourself. Share your "to do" list with others. Spend time with friends and family while you share tasks like decorating, wrapping gifts, and preparing the holiday meal.

  • Be realistic. Try not to put pressure on yourself  to create the perfect holiday for your family. Focus instead on the traditions that make holidays special for you. And remember that just because it's a holiday, family problems don't go away. If you have a hard time being around your relatives, it's okay to set limits on time allocation at  visits. 

  • Seek counseling if necessary. If you don't have a therapist, consider a visit with us for a relaxing energy healing session. We even have an intuitive metphysical healer who can help you release any emotional traumas or karmic issues creating this stress.

The holidays can be a joyful time, offering a chance to reconnect with friends and family. But they can also be stressful.

If when you think about all that you have to do during this holiday season and your body tightens up, your stomach gets a twisty feeling, or your heart or head pounds, then you have holiday stress. Look at the above list and try to integrate it into your life. Your teeth and the rest of you will appreciate it.

Happy Holidays!

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