Friday, May 27, 2011

May 27, 2011 ~ Day 168
Relax Your Jaw

"I feel like I have so much going on right now," I confided in my husband tonight. "It's almost overwhelming... I haven't been this busy in a very long while; hoping to find balance soon with all there is to do."

"It's good for you," he smiled. "Healthy."

Deep down I really agree with him. I've had so much work to do lately and so many commitments with our kids, I really haven't had time to think about anything dark or depressing ~ or to walk down memory lane. I've been meeting myself coming and going, as they say, pretty much slammed. In a good way.

Last night I went to sleep at 1:30am because I needed to finish writing my daily blog and most of my daytime writing hours lately have gone to working on content for my husband's company. I was happy with the way the post turned out but paid for the lack of sleep today ~ which has mainly felt like a slog through caramel or taffy.

Once again it is after midnight and my body is telling me to crawl into bed before my adrenals kick into overgear. I know I should... but alas there is so much work left to do!

Luckily though, I'm feeling pretty relaxed about it. Maybe I'm just too tired to feel anxious.

This afternoon I went to the dentist and she explained that the reason why my gums are receding from my teeth is mainly because I grind my teeth. "You may do it while you are sleeping," she said, "But it also happens at times when people are awake.

"I'm guessing I do that more than I recognize,"
I nodded, "Because I have three small children which has in the past few years been pretty stressful at times. I think I tend to clench my jaw when I'm trying to manage their tantrums calmly."

"That makes sense,"
she replied. "Well... I can't make your children grow up any more quickly but I *can* help you get a mouth guard to sleep with so that you don't grind your teeth at night."

Since I left her office this evening at 6pm I have actually noticed several times that I'd been unconsciously grinding my teeth or biting down hard during moments of intensity - say, when all three of our kids were screaming at the top of their lungs in the bathtub, or when one of them slugged the other one in the back.

At least now that I am aware of the problem, I can actually do something about it... actively work to change my behavior patterns. Hopefully this will not only stop the gum recession problem in my mouth but even more importantly, it may help relax my body to the point where my immune system is free to function optimally.

Just like I am now consciously watching my thoughts and words, I can also definitely pay closer attention to how my body physically responds to stressful situations ~ using 'teeth grinding' as my alert signal.

It may sound funny but I'm also trying to be more actively aware of how my body responds physically in peaceful situations where I feel completely at ease... so that I can try to recall those behaviors in the future, when I'm trying to relax myself in a challenging circumstance.

For some weird reason this process reminds me of labor breathing - the breathing they taught me to do while in the active labor part of childbirth so that I wouldn't bear down or push before my body was fully dilated and the baby was ready to come out. I remember some nurse or doula telling me along the way that when I was panting or blowing air out, this would stop me from pushing before the right time.

I wonder if I exhale or blow out air, if it would stop me from clenching during times of stress. Other relaxing activities that could potentially keep me from gritting my teeth include singing (I frequently find myself singing Bob Marley reggae songs when I'm anxious, to calm myself down)... along with eating and exercising.

Becoming more self-aware has been sort of fascinating so far. I'm discovering that I have many unconscious thoughts AND physical responses to unravel, most of which have come as a surprise. The teeth grinding thing is just one more piece to fit into my puzzle, a new landmark on my map of self.

So, despite how exhausted my body feels at this moment, my spirit is flying a little bit ~ pleased by the notion that I am making small personal breakthroughs every day.

Today's revelation is pretty simple - but it makes sense to my heart:

To feel fulfillment and true happiness (while simultaneously preventing future peridontal work?) it really helps to consciously unclench your jaw once in a while... and then exhale.

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