relaxation techniquesIn my last article, I explored some of the ways the respiratory system seeks to manage stress with shallow breathing and short breaths.

This change in breathing style actually helps prepare our body for a fight.

Of course if there is no fight….then this breathing change is not what we want.

Our body’s reaction to sources of stress, and the world is full of them as we know, often happens without any conscious awareness on our part.

Becoming conscious is necessary to have any chance of changing the body’s habits.

In this article, I’m going to broaden your understanding of how to cope with stress by looking at what your muscles are doing as their part of our stress-coping mechanism.

I’ll also give you a couple more stress management strategies.

#3 Sign of Stress:  Look at Others’ Jaw Behavior

One of the most easily observed muscle groups is the jaw.

Begin by taking a look at other people’s jaw behavior.

Now, when any of us are under stress the jaw generally tightens up.

Just Like the Movies…

This sign of stress can be pretty obvious.

(Think of how many times you’ve seen the jaw tense as the muscles clench…in the movies…go back and watch the bad guy, or a stressed out hero facing a difficult decision.)

Sometimes the jaw tenses without the teeth even touching and the jaw is just set.

Watch for jaw tensing behavior when you think someone is upset…but also notice this jaw tensing when you may not be expecting that someone is stressed.

Stress Management Tip: Observe their Jaw

This stress management tip of observing the jaw muscles in those around you can not only help you to recognize the signs of stress in others, but it can also be a stress reducer for you as you can maybe avoid these folks or be sure to focus on doing those slow, easy belly breaths yourself when you are dealing with them.

Practice this technique and you will be in a better position for understanding stress in others and avoiding a difficult situation where you may otherwise be caught unaware.

#4 Sign of Stress:  Look at Your Jaw Behavior

Have you ever stopped to check out how you manage your jaw during the day?

A good rule of thumb is that your teeth should actually NEVER BE TOUCHING!!!!!

(Well, OK except briefly when you swallow….and when you are eating, food is actually between your teeth.)

Another Stress Early Warning System…

When your jaw is tense this is a clue that your body is stressed.

Think of this jaw-tensing consequence of stress as one of your early warning signs, and it can come as a big surprise to the conscious mind.

As you start to notice your jaw during your day you will probably begin to pick up on when your body is getting stressed that you might not have noticed otherwise.

Remember your body can be stressed even when your mind is not so much or you don’t know that your mind is also stressed.

Remember your teeth do not have to be touching to be a signal that your body is stressed…you can set your jaw without your teeth coming together when stressed too!

Stress Management Tip: Check Your Jaw

One of the ways to reduce stress is to periodically check your jaw.

Is your jaw relaxed or set?

Are your teeth touching or apart?

Let your jaw alert you of when it’s time to start some relaxation techniques.

Want to discover more about stress management?

Take the first step!

Click here for my Special Report: Biofeedback Training- Discover the Power of Your Mind to Control Your Body

Author: Jinny Joy LaRock, RN, BCB Sr. Fellow

Denver Biofeedback Clinic, Inc.