My mum is in her 90th year For a while she has been complaining of jaw pain with ‘sudden onset’. She has become stooped as she has got older and has lost 2 inches in height – this is common with aging. Not uncommon for women of her generation, she suffers from anxiety; in fact she is constantly watching to see who needs what and how she can provide it: in essence she is like an animal who is constantly looking out for a predator and therefore remains in a high state of anxiety. This increases when she goes out. Why? Because she is worried about falling…and stepping on dog poo (my mum is fastidiously clean…). So she walks very cautiously: jaws clenched, neck and shoulders tight…which then leads to her neck and shoulders going into spasm.
Interestingly, her ‘sudden onset’ jaw pain almost always occurs on her return from an outing. Putting two and two together, I worked out that it was in fact her anxiety with falling (and stepping on dog poo) that caused her to tense up which then led to tightened neck and shoulder muscles, clenching of jaws…ergo…jaw pain.
My mum is very pragmatic – she wasn’t convinced.
She got the necessary proof ast weekend: there was a fire in the flat below hers on Saturday night. Her flat began smelling of and filling with smoke so we had to evacuate at 1am; she barely had time to put on her dressing gown and slippers before I escorted her outside in the cold via stairs. Within minutes her jaw pain set in. When we were allowed back in 1hr later, she was in terrible pain; so she took some muscle relaxants and went to sleep. The next morning she felt better and by early afternoon, by remaining vigilant about her posture, keeping her breathing to a slow rhythm, ensuring her jaws were loose and generally walking about, she was able to finally get rid of the ‘sudden onset’ jaw pain.
She was finally convinced – stress and anxiety were indeed causing her jaw pain.
Often we only look at the effects,but by being vigilant (and honest) about when these effects materialise we can observe that Stress and Anxiety play a big role in our physical pain. Of course each person is different, but generally speaking, it is our upper bodies that are effected.
So what physical pain do you suffer from?
What are the current stresses in your life?
Can you do something about them?
Here are a few tips:
- Stretching: here are some upper body stretches you can do to release neck and shoulders.
- Mindfulness meditation: do join us for our bi-weekly FREE Mindfulness Meditation Practice sessions to help you manage your stress on a daily basis
- Rebalancing: try walking barefoot on the grass for a few minutes each day – it helps to balance the negativity. This is a good article on the value of walking barefoot – please understand, I do not subscribe to everything the author expounds but have proof that barefoot walking on grass is extremely beneficial.