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by TJz Balm Expert
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Non-invasive and natural self-care practices are important for long term TMJ pain relief and stress reduction. Stress is a major cause of bruxism--teeth grinding and clenching—occurring mostly during sleep when one is unaware of these behaviors. Waking up with jaw pain, neck pain and TMJ headaches are signs of bruxism and TMJ disorders, often attributed to emotional stress. Incorporating stress-reduction activities into your schedule will help diminish the effects of difficulties in daily life, and improve negative emotions that may be the underlying cause of jaw problems.

April is Stress Awareness Month, which makes this topic timely and especially pertinent since there has been so much uncertainty and change in everyone’s lives. The Covid-19 global health crisis has led to prolonged exposure to stress and impacted all segments of societies throughout the world. This health, social and economic crisis has also become a major cause of mental health issues. Awareness to promote positive behavioral change, and interventions for physical and mental wellness are so important.

Practice natural and holistic self-care activities to reduce stress, alleviate TMJ pain and improve sleep.

  1. Simplify when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Make a checklist of what needs to get done and then prioritize. Focus on one task at a time and do it well.
  2. Slow your mind with deep breathing exercises (see below).
  3. Take a 5-minute stretch break, three times a day.
  4. Put on your favorite music, sing and dance.
  5. Sip herbal tea and take a warm bath in the evening.
  6. Meditate—it’s a variety of techniques that are used to encourage a heightened state of awareness, focused attention, and achieve a mentally clear and emotionally calm and stable state.
  7. Schedule an online yoga class--a type of exercise that incorporates breathe, and movement of your body into various positions, which improves breathing, fitness, flexibility and relaxes your mind.
  8. Eat right and stay hydrated throughout the day--consider talking to a registered dietitian about a soft food diet.
  9. Take a morning and/or evening walk, even if it’s only 15 minutes.
  10. Say “no” to things that are diminishing the quality of your life.
  11. Create a routine that includes work, play and rest. Include things that are important to you.
  12. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep!

Use natural pain relief remedies for jaw problems.

  1. Stick to a soft food diet. Vegetable-based soups, scrambled eggs, green smoothies and applesauce are examples of soft foods that can fit into a healthy diet. Overuse of the jaw muscles can aggravate TMJ pain. That’s why it’s best to eat soft foods.
  2. Although a night guard won’t alleviate jaw pain, it will protect teeth. See your dentist to get fitted for one.
  3. Do gentle jaw and neck exercises throughout the day. See the TJz™ blog to learn about different types of jaw exercises to alleviate TMJ pain.
  4. Keep your tongue positioned properly to prevent teeth grinding and clenching: tongue on the roof of your mouth with gentle suction, lips gently together ad teeth slightly apart.
  5. Consider a visit to a TMJ massage therapist or a chiropractor who specializes in masseter release and jaw problems.
  6. Sleep with a neck roll pillow to alleviate neck and jaw pain.
  7. Make sure your workspace is ergonomic. See the TJz™ blog about setting up an ergonomic workspace.
  8. Using the hands-free massaging applicator, apply TJz Balm™ night-time topical pain relief balm to muscles and joints at bedtime. See the How To Use page on the TJz Balm™ website.

Be present in the moment. Don’t get caught up in thinking about the past or the future. Being present cultivates inner peace and is a practice of natural self-care.

  1. Avoid distractions.
  2. Listen to your breathing and focus on it.
  3. Stay focused on one task.
  4. Notice details in the moment, even if it’s the gentle sound of the rustling of leaves that you are walking by.
  5. Express joy in the beauty that you see.

Note: Social media is a distraction and can cause anxiety about memories of the past or what will be in the future. Spending too much time reading social media posts can make you feel out of touch with reality and create feelings of unhappiness. Disconnect from it when necessary.

There are science-based exercises to help you live in the present moment. It’s important to acknowledge and enjoy the small things in daily life.

Have you ever noticed the uniqueness of a raisin? This raisin meditation exercise is meant to help you focus on what is right in front of you. It’s an exercise that helps train your brain to be in the moment. Pay close attention to the details. 

  1. Put a raisin in your hand.
  2. Focus on the way it looks, including the color and texture of the skin.
  3. How does it feel in your hand? Is it soft? Does it feel light?
  4. Notice how the skin of the raisin responds to your hand manipulation.
  5. Smell it and describe the scent.  
  6. Put it in your mouth and notice the texture and flavor as you chew it.

By focusing on the raisin, you are unlikely to think or worry about problems that are in your life. If your mind wanders, try to refocus it back to the raisin.

Breathe work helps dissipate stress as it occurs. Deep breathing exercises are a natural self-care tool to deal with stress and jaw pain wherever you are. Practice this breathing exercise multiple times throughout the day.

  1. Breathe in slowly and deeply, pushing your stomach out so that your diaphragm is put to maximal use.
  2. Hold your breath briefly.
  3. Exhale slowly, thinking "relax."
  4. Repeat the entire sequence five to 10 times, concentrating on breathing deeply and slowly.

Progressive muscle relaxation focuses sequentially on the body’s major muscle groups. It is a natural technique used to achieve full body stress relief and deep relaxation.

Tighten each muscle and hold the contraction for 20 seconds before slowly releasing it. As the muscle relaxes, focus on the release of tension and the sensation of relaxation. Start with your facial muscles, then work down the body. The full body routine takes 12 to 15 minutes. Practice it twice daily and in about two weeks, you should feel stress relief.


Wrinkle your forehead and arch your eyebrows. Hold; then relax.


Close your eyes tightly. Hold; then relax.


Wrinkle your nose and flare your nostrils. Hold; then relax.


Push your tongue firmly against the roof of your mouth. Hold; then relax.


Grimace. Hold; then relax.

Jaws (avoid clenching the jaw if you are suffering with TMJ pain or jaw problems)

Clench your jaws tightly. Hold; then relax.


Tense your neck by pulling your chin down to your chest. Hold; then relax.


Arch your back. Hold; then relax.


Breathe in as deeply as you can. Hold; then relax.


Tense your stomach muscles. Hold; then relax.

Buttocks and thighs

Tense your buttocks and thigh muscles. Hold; then relax.


Tense your biceps. Hold; then relax.

Forearms and hands

Tense your arms and clench your fists. Hold; then relax.


Press your feet down. Hold; then relax.

Ankles and feet

Pull your toes up. Hold; then relax. 

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by TJz Balm Expert


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