Sidestep the Stress of the Holidays

dental careStress is something most of us would like to avoid as much as possible. It’s also not something we typically associate with the very merry holiday season. A large majority of Americans journey gleefully from Thanksgiving to New Years Day reveling in carols, sleigh bells, carriage rides, and holiday gatherings. In all the hustle and bustle, we may not stop once to assess our stress level. This could be because the extra activity at this time of year is perceived as joyful, and that simply doesn’t seem like stress – but it is.

Why does this matter?

The reason we are discussing stress at the onset of the holiday season is because oral health can suffer under excessive amounts of stress. The mind is wired to work out stressful situations, even good ones. The body may respond to excitement about an upcoming holiday party the same way it would to worry over the perfect holiday meal. And the way it may respond is with teeth grinding or jaw clenching. If these are habits that you already struggle to control, the holidays can be a particularly challenging time.

Mitigate Stress for Better Health

There are several advantages to gathering your stress-management tools. One is that you are less likely to grind down your teeth long before their time. Another is that you may avoid chronic headaches that result from clenching your jaw while you sleep. Fortunately, stress management need not involve endless hot yoga classes, or even five minutes of meditation. What it will involve is getting clear about how you relax. Some suggestions include:

  • Sit by the window in  your home or office to enjoy the winter weather.
  • Cozy up to the fire on a chilly night with a good book or your favorite music.
  • Limit your cocktail hour to a two-drink maximum.
  • Shut the coffee pot off at noon.
  • Exercise regularly to physically work off stress.

There are countless ways that each of us can reduce our stress levels, even during the busy holiday season. When we do, we are giving our smile – and our body  – some much needed TLC.

We wish all of our patients a healthy and happy holiday season.


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