Learning how to de-stress yourself is huge. Everyone experiences stress. It’s just part of life.
Stress becomes an issue when there’s too much of it, and your system has trouble rebounding resiliently to a calm, alert state.
How is this relevant to TMJ issues? So much TMJ misery is related to chronic and acute stress. It’s one of the major contributors to TMJ issues. People clench and grind due to stress, and stress is always accompanied by muscle tension.
Staying stressed for too long is bad for your well-being. It affects your digestion (including absorption of nutrients and detoxification) and creates unnecessary wear and tear on your vital organs.
I’m talking about bad stress as opposed to good stress, such as anxiety before public speaking, which makes you a better speaker, or the adrenaline you feel when a bad driver nearly hits you that helps you successfully avoid being hit.
In my opinion, bad stress includes most news about politics (just donate money and volunteer for candidates you like) and traumatic events (there’s always something awful happening in the world).
Also, the desire to control others’ behavior can bring about bad stress. Better to focus on accepting them as they are and work on a healthy path for yourself. (Maybe they’ll witness you and want to change themselves.)
You can still care and have a constructive strategy to manage stressors.
You can do these things from a calm, alert state. Imagine that.
The beauty of using a little breathwork to get yourself out of an unhelpful state of stress (any stressor that does not require immediate action) is that breathwork bypasses your mind.
Has “you need to calm down” ever helped anyone to actually calm down, whether it’s yourself or someone else telling you this?
It’s also quick. You can simply do a little breathwork when stressed, and your system starts shifting into parasympathetic mode.
The more you practice it, even when not stressed, the more it gets wired into your neurology.
The physiological sigh
The physiological sigh is breathwork technique that’s getting a lot of attention now. It’s been recognized for 80 years as a behavior people do automatically when claustrophobic and in other stressful situations.
Now you can put it to work for yourself when you need to de-stress yourself.
I learned about it from Dr. Andrew Huberman, a Stanford University professor who runs a neurobiology lab and has a podcast.
In brief, it’s two inhalations through the nose, and one longer exhalation through the mouth. (I think of it as the “sniff sniff ahhhhh” breath.)
Here’s a video demonstrating technique.
Dr. Huberman says sometimes people fall asleep if they do it 15 times in a row, but just three of these physiological sighs are enough to start slowing your heartbeat down in 20-30 seconds.
I nearly always yawn when I do three physiological sighs.
Another fairly quick breathwork technique for reducing stress is the 4-7-8 breathing (the Relaxing Breath). Dr. Andrew Weil, who has been practicing and writing about holistic health and integrative medicine for 30 years, came up with it.
Dr. Weil recommends doing four of these breath cycles at least twice a day for two months to get the benefits. This wires it into your neurology.
He recommends slowing the cycle down, with the limiting factor being how long you can comfortably hold your breath.
It can also help with cravings and falling asleep.
In essense, you are retraining your nervous system to be more relaxed.
You may become less stressed from using either or both of these techniques and still benefit from receiving a TMJ Relief session to retrain your jaw muscles into relaxation. The breathwork will help your body retrain itself more quickly and prevent relapses.
If you’re ready to have that conversation with me, please connect. I’d love to hear from you.
I invite you to work with me!
MaryAnn Reynolds, MS, LMT, BCTMB
Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy • TMJ Relief
online scheduler: maryannreynolds.as.me
text or voicemail: 512-507-4184