About 15 percent of Americans deal with chronic facial pain, which could be coming from your temporomandibular joint (TMJ). These are the joints responsible for chewing and speaking, so they are definitely important! If you’ve already been diagnosed with a temporomandibular dysfunction (TMD), then you are no stranger to jaw and facial pain.

But what is causing your TMD pain? It might actually be stress. And as you know, stress affects almost everyone at some point in their lives. In fact, about 77 percent of people reported that they experienced physical symptoms due to stress, which is definitely a lot of people. To help combat stress and alleviate your TMD symptoms, here are some tips you can follow.

Remain aware of your jaw

If you are feeling stressed, take a moment to notice if you’re carrying tension in your jaw or are grinding your teeth. It’s important to be able to pinpoint these moments throughout the day. The more aware you are of the situation, the faster you’ll be able to stop yourself from clenching and grinding when you feel anxious. When this happens, loosen your jaw and massage the muscles–this can help to relieve some of the tension and keep pain at bay.

Get a some sleep

We’ve all heard it a million times, but sleep really is extremely important. You should be getting about eight hours of sleep a night in order to feel fully rested the next day. If you are having trouble sleeping, make sure electronic devices, caffeine or afternoon naps aren’t to blame. Keep your room at a comfortable temperature and leave distractions out of the bedroom for a restful sleep.

Always eat right

Diet and stress are closely linked. We often don’t eat healthy when we have an impending deadline or a long workday because it might seem that it is sometimes faster just to run to the vending machine for a sugary snack than it is to pack something healthy. However, try to plan ahead before you leave for work. Be sure to stock up on fruits, vegetables and foods rich in omega-3s, which have been shown to reduce stress. Plus, you won’t have to worry about the sudden energy zap that often accompanies chowing down on a candy bar.

Exercise regularly

You’re probably wondering when you could possibly have time to exercise. However, we don’t necessarily mean pumping iron at your local gym for hours at a time. Exercise is anything that gets the blood flowing, which triggers endorphins. Take a quick jaunt around the office or take walk during your lunch break. You wouldn’t believe how just a little bit of movement throughout the day can instantly improve a stressed mood.

If you’re currently suffering from TMD and need relief from your symptoms, contact Dr. Sara at AZ Sleep & TMJ Solutions in North Scottsdale.