by Brian Harvey
(Annandale Va 22003)

Because of stress I clench my jaw mostly in the day time. I am also addicted to chewing gum when I drive. I have to stop the gum chewing but I need to get rid of the unhealthy response to the stress.

Comments for TMJ

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Response to TMJ
by: Elle Bieling, RN

Hi Brian,
Congratulations on your self-awareness! The first step toward healing is always becoming aware that an issue in your life exists.

"Clenching" is always an issue about anger. When we clench our fists, clench our teeth or clench our jaw it is because we are seething with anger and frustration and we are trying to stuff it back inside. TMJ problems (acronym for Temporomandibular Joint - joint of the jaw) are no exception. Your "stress" is expressed through your emotional response of anger. You clench your jaw to keep from saying something in anger, that you would later regret.

Did you get a bodily response when you read this Brian? Did you get a shudder, a twinge in your gut or goosebumps? Did you feel your anger rising? Did your jaw clench? Something else? Often our bodies respond to a situation that upsets us. Pay attention to your response. It will hold your truth.

I didn't know where Annandale, VA was and had to look it up on the map. No wonder you chew gum and clench your teeth when you drive! This is the metro Washington DC area and I imagine it is a nightmare to navigate. Most likely it will take great effort for you to relax during your commute.

Often when we drive, we focus on the driver ahead of us. When they do something 'stupid' or when they block our way, the natural tendency is to get angry and start cursing, clenching, or worse, flipping them off.

Next time, when you feel your anger rise at a driver ahead, or anger at the traffic, instead of focusing on the car ahead, take a second to focus on your steering wheel. Think of the Circle of Life. Take your mind around the circle. Breathe. Say, "Even though the traffic is horrible, I surround myself with Love." Breathe.

If you do this, your anger will abate, and perhaps you can slowly wean yourself from your chewing gum. The Circle of Life supports you, since we all have to find a way to navigate life. It's a lovely metaphor, don't you think? You can choose to navigate with Love, or you can choose to navigate with anger. It is up to you!
(Please don't look down for too long in heavy traffic!)

If you chose to spend more time with yourself in silence and meditation, you can reflect on what it may be that makes you so angry all the time. If you need more help, I would be honored to be your holistic health coach.

Peace and Healing to you, my friend!

re: tmj & gum
by: Sandra

I chew gum all the time and my jaw is killing me by the end of the day. I'm not sure why I do it but I chew at my desk and like you when I drive. I don't associate mine with stress but when I used to suffer from TMJ it was definately stress. I did it at night though so wore a bite piece to help relieve the pressure.
Then I guess I learned to deal with whatever was stressing me out as it got better.
But that gum chewing makes me sore...:)

Tired of Clenching
by: Liz

I am a clencher. I clench throughout the day and at night as well. I know I have problems with anxiety and is probably the reason for my clenching. I become aware of my clenching in the day as well as night. During the day when I clench I notice it and remind myself to not clench and then my mind moves on to something else and I am clenching again. At night I wake myself up to stop clenching as well. I know it has to do with what I often want to say to people but a lot of the time just bite my tongue. I try to pick my battles but in doing so I am left with the urge to want to speak my mind but I don't and just walk away. I try to forgive and forget but it's not as easy as people say. Why do I care so much? Why can't I just move on and not clench? Is clenching to care?

Elle's Response to Liz
by: Elle

Hi Liz,
Congrats to you on noticing your habits! The first step in healing is always noticing your bodily responses to what you perceive as unpleasant! Your inner wisdom is speaking to you which is why you felt the need to express it on this website. It is great that you have the courage to speak here.

You already know that you clench because there is something you need to say, but feel that it is inappropriate to say it. When you "walk away" from those situations, you might want to try immediately writing your feelings down. Include any other bodily responses that you notice. That way you can express them, to yourself, to God, to the collective human experience.

Keep noticing what you are doing for awhile. Keep writing down what you notice. Don't do anything other than acknowledge yourself and your response. Be your own observer of what is happening to you. Lovingly allow yourself to feel and act as you do.

After a while of doing this, you may notice a shift. If you do, notice that and write it down!

Tell all of us (readers) what is happening/has happened as you go forward. We would love to hear your journey, because you are not alone! We all share the human need to be heard! So tell your story!

~Elle Bieling, RN, HHP

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