None of us are immune to stress. We may experience stress for different reasons and at varying degrees, but we can surely all relate to how stress can make us feel and what it can do to our overall sense of wellbeing.
Perhaps because stress is such a subjective experience, we often have a hard time justifying the need to reduce it in our lives. In other words, we can’t easily measure it, therefore, it’s tough to feel like it’s okay to devote any time to managing it.
After all, everyone feels stressed out at some point. You deal with it every single day simply by living your life. You have a spouse, children, busy schedules, and the list goes on. It’s not something you whine about. It’s not even something you can avoid, right?
You’re an adult. So you pull up your bootstraps and carry on. Because that’s what responsible adults do.
What if we told you, however, just how powerful an impact stress can have on your health? Did you know that nearly 80% of all disease can be traced back to chronic stress?
Now do you feel justified in stopping for a moment to evaluate the stress in your life and how you can better manage it?
The truth is that stress can weaken our immune system and leave us quite vulnerable to all sorts of health problems. When your immune system is compromised, your body’s natural defenses are down, opening the door for inflammation and infection to wreak havoc on your oral and overall health.
One of the more obvious ways stress can affect your oral health is through damage caused by clenching or grinding your teeth. This can lead to TMJ disorder, which brings with it such symptoms as frequent headaches and migraines, jaw and neck pain, and damaged teeth.
Studies have also linked stress to an increased risk of periodontal infection, or gum disease, for example. Gum disease, consequently, has also been shown to increase your risk of health conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, high blood pressure, heart disease, and type II diabetes.
But enough gloom and doom! Let’s talk about ways you can keep these problems at bay by reducing stress in your everyday life.
Eat Well And Stay Active
One of your best defenses against chronic inflammation, health problems, gum disease, and stress is proper nutrition and consistent physical activity. Exercising, eating enough fruits and vegetables, and avoiding sugar and highly refined processed foods will help lower your risk of obesity, make you feel more energetic, and reduce stress.
If you don’t do these things already, be careful not to shock your body with too much change at once. Start by making small changes like adding a piece of fruit to your normal breakfast, 15 minutes of walking during your lunch break, or a few minutes of light yoga before bedtime. Then gradually increase the changes and duration of activity over the next few weeks.
Take Some Time For Yourself
You’re always taking care of everyone else. But who is taking care of you?
Everyone needs (and deserves!) time to do the things they enjoy. What do you like to do? Maybe you could have a friend, relative, or trusted neighbor watch the kids for a couple of hours for just one afternoon a week to give yourself time to read a book, do some window shopping, check out the new coffee shop around the corner, or to just sit on your couch and enjoy the peace and quiet!
We must grant ourselves permission to take time for ourselves to rejuvenate and recharge. It’s not selfish. It’s not a waste of time. It’s not a luxury. It is a necessity. YOU are worth it!
How can we help you protect your smile from stress? Dr. Gilbert and our caring team at Bright Star Dental want you to achieve your best self and your best health. Let us see what we can do for you today!