It’s normal to reach for a pain reliever at the first sign of pain, especially TMJ pain. However, finding the source of your pain and addressing it will deliver much better results in the end. One of the contributing factors to TMJ disorders is a high-stress level. When you’re feeling stressed, you might clench your jaw or grind your teeth both during the day and when you’re asleep. Although this habit might seem harmless, it can lead to tooth wear, cracked teeth, and temporomandibular joint disorder.

Before you take another ibuprofen to deal with the pain, consider finding ways to reduce your stress in addition to visiting your dentist. The combination of the two can help you find long-term TMJ symptom relief. Here are seven easy ways to reduce your stress and improve TMJ symptoms. 

attractive young woman bending down to tie her shoe while running

1. Exercise

One of the easiest ways to reduce stress in your daily life and also benefit your heart health along the way is regular exercise. The American Heart Association recommends getting at least 150 minutes of moderate activity per week to benefit your heart health. There are a few reasons how regular exercise can reduce stress. To start, exercise lowers your body’s stress hormones including cortisol. It also releases endorphins which act as natural painkillers and improves your mood. Regular exercise can also improve your quality of sleep and improve your self-confidence. Lastly, exercise is even more beneficial when you’re doing an activity you enjoy like rock climbing, hiking, yoga, dancing, or riding a bike. Whatever type of movement you like doing, consider making that your go-to exercise.

2. Reduce Caffeine Intake

Although caffeine is a stimulant and can give you a burst of energy, high doses can actually increase your anxiety levels. If you drink caffeine and then notice feeling jittery or anxious, you should consider cutting back on your caffeine intake. We also recommend not drinking caffeine late in the day as it can interrupt your sleep and cause you to clench and grind. When your sleep gets interrupted, it can make the following day feel more exhausting and stressful which won’t help with your daily stress levels. In addition, clenching and grinding will only contribute to your TMJ disorder.

3. Journaling

One way to relieve stress that nearly anyone can do is writing about what’s making you feel stressed. You can write about what you feel stressed about and then write about what you feel grateful for. Combining both can help you focus on the positivity in your life to reduce stress and anxiety.

4. Spend Time With Loved Ones

Support from your friends and family can help you get through the hardest of times. If you’re feeling stressed out, consider giving someone you love a call and venting to them. It’s even more beneficial to get together in person and go for a walk while you talk. That way, you’re getting in exercise while also spending time with someone you love. Studies show that those with fewer social connections are more likely to suffer from anxiety or depression.

5. Laugh

Even if you’re in the worst mood possible, forcing yourself to laugh or smile will make your body produce endorphins which will help reduce your stress. If you’re not sure what to laugh about, watch a funny video online, turn on your favorite tv show or listen to a funny podcast. Laughing helps relieve your stress response and also relaxes your muscles. As a bonus, laughing can also boost your mood and improve your immune system.

6. Learn to Say No

If you always say yes to people and your neverending workload is the cause of your stress, learning to say no might be your saving grace. Once you learn to say no, you can finally get a grasp on your to-do list and finally finish it. The less you have to do, the less stress you will have. Try to only juggle as many responsibilities as you can without becoming too overwhelmed. Once you reach that limit, put your foot down and start saying no.

7. Avoid Procrastination

If you wait until the last minute to get things done, you’re going to feel a lot of stress. The key to avoiding procrastination is making a list of everything you need to get done and starting with the most difficult task first. After you finish the most difficult task, the other ones will feel like a breeze.

Get TMJ Treatment in St. Louis

In addition to finding ways to relieve stress in your life, getting professional TMJ treatment should also be included on your plate. At Smile On Dental Studio in Richmond Heights, MO, Dr. Chris Hill will use neuromuscular dentistry to create a customized TMJ treatment plan made specifically for you. Utilizing advanced dental technology and neuromuscular techniques, you can soon live a pain-free life. Contact our St. Louis TMJ dentist today to book a consultation. Please call (314) 678-7876 to get started.