Have you ever been midway through your work day, in the middle of a workout or simply running errands and realized you were subconsciously clenching your jaw? Most of us do it and don’t even realize it can affect more than just our facial expressions. Tension in the jaw can cause muscle fatigue, low energy, headaches, toothaches, dizziness, grinding of teeth and poor sleep, among other symptoms.
Most experts say that we hold tension in our jaws due to repressed anger or other intense emotions like frustration and stress. It’s essentially a mechanism we use to control our feelings without even thinking about what we’re doing. Finding other ways to deal with those feelings can help alleviate some, if not all, of those uncomfortable symptoms and is well worth the effort. Here are a few ideas.
Essential and massage oils
Topical treatments can be effective for helping to relax muscles, including those in your jaw. Arnica massage oil can help ease muscle pain and reduce the effects of muscle damage and magnesium massage oil is said to help with muscle recovery — both can be used along the jawline to help with muscle tension. Additionally, peppermint oil diluted in a carrier oil like virgin coconut oil or CBD oil can be effective for pain relief and as a muscle relaxer.
There are also a number of natural supplements that can be consumed in pill or even in tea form, that have been anecdotally proven as effective muscle relaxers. These include valerian root which is known to have sedative effects and turmeric which has anti-inflammatory properties.
Committing to an anti-inflammatory diet or at a minimum reducing or eliminating your consumption of caffeine, sugar, alcohol and fatty foods could help reduce inflammation throughout your body and further muscle recovery. Basically, eating a well-balanced nutritious diet is always a good idea, but especially if you’re suffering from muscle or joint pain.
Physical changes start first with working to become more mindful about how you hold your jaw at various times throughout the day, but that is a process that will take some time and consistency. As you work to become more mindful, you can perform self-massage on your jawline throughout the day, especially at times when you are typically stressed, worried or under pressure. Just gently massage from your cheeks all the way down to your jaw bone using light pressure. You might also try practicing what is known as “lion’s breath” or “lion pose” in yoga. Inhale, open your mouth wide, look towards the ceiling, stick your tongue out and then release the breath audibly. Repeat a few times.
If the main cause of jaw tension is repressed emotions, the most enduring change can come from dealing with those emotions. You can engage in any number of practices and therapies to deal with these underlying feelings, but meditation can be a powerful one that you don’t need anything but a quiet place and your own mind to engage in. Learn to sit in stillness and quiet and face your emotions. Once you begin to practice meditation regularly you will learn to enter a meditative state in a finger snap, even in the middle of stressful situations, enabling you to stay focused, calm and mentally stable.
Editor’s Note: Be sure to check with your physician prior to using any herbal remedies or supplementation or making any dietary changes.
Also read: 6 Strategies to get a handle on stress