Friday, August 19, 2016

The Best Stress Reliever

I had a stressful summer. Or so I thought until just this week.

Back in May I developed TMJ. I didn't realize that's what it was until the pain became more frequent and someone mentioned TMJ as possibly the cause. So I did some research and without a doctor's visit (because there is little to nothing a doctor can do for TMJ), determined my friend might be right.

I had been under quite a bit of stress because of an upcoming event. I'd also been waking up in the morning, often with my jaw clenched. Two very distinct signs of TMJ. As a result of this new found discovery, I began to take action and implemented some changes in my diet, and I added some nutritional supplements that had been suggested by most online sites.

As the summer wore on, my stress level lessened, as did my TMJ issues. It was still a somewhat stressful season for me, more than most summers. Then this week happened. 

I've become expressly aware of just how much stress we carry in our bodies on a regular basis. Thanks to this awful TMJ, it's become difficult for me to ignore. 

Yesterday was one of the most excruciating pain-filled days I think I've had, ever. Very little I did early on brought any relief. I couldn't think straight. I was completely distracted. 

I was so grateful for the quietness of the day. Hardly anyone was in the office and the phones were down. So, gratefully, I didn't have to interact with anyone which is something I don't know that I could've done given how debilitating my pain level was for most of the afternoon. I looked forward to going home so that I could rest, but that's when things became much worse.

Once I was home, the pain increased and became consistent. No temporary reprieve, Just pain. Non-stop. 

Then I remembered something - this little post I wrote just the day before. It was for my weekly Wednesday's Washing devotional.

As I was literally writhing in pain trying to find the most comfortable spot, I began to try to relax. I know! I can barely keep a straight face and I just wrote those words! How can you relax while in pain so great you can't sit still? But I tried, and I did, for a bit.

The only thing I could think to do to help me relax was to quote scripture - scriptures about peace, stillness, and about pain and disease. I tried to be as still as possible and envision myself resting in the Father's arms, free from pain. Um, it worked! Okay, I was still in pain, but sitting still took the edge off and I was able to start thinking more clearly. 

I eventually had the good sense to go grab the cold compress out of my freezer and toss it in the microwave. Heat helps to relax the jaw muscles. DUH! Why didn't I think of that sooner?

Why? Because pain does weird things to our bodies, including how we think, and stress makes you stupid. It's true. Something happens in our bodies chemically that makes us forget, unable to think clearly, and otherwise, a different person than if we were stress free. Don't believe me? Click on those links in this paragraph and read for yourself. 

So when I stopped and did the excruciating work of trying to relax my mind, I got different results. When I focused on the Lord, and not on my pain, things began to change, however slight that change might have been. 

Regardless, I received enough clarity in that moment that it helped me find a solution that worked immediately to relieve my pain. As a result, the rest of my evening was completely pain free. 

My point is this. We are often too worked up in the midst of a crisis to see our way clearly through it. Therefore, we panic. We don't respond rightly. We do all the wrongs things to get out of the trouble we're in because we fail to step back and just breath. Relax in the midst of the chaos. Still our mind.

I wonder how many relationships would be saved by simply taking a breath before responding in a heated conversation? I wonder how many accidents could be avoided by relaxing our grip on the wheel and not allowing others haste to affect our pace? I wonder how over anxious individuals could find peace by simply choosing to still their mind? 

Let's face it. Stress is inevitable. In fact, some stress is actually good for us. It's how we handle that stress that determines who we choose to become. 

In truth, I am a mess most days. A beautiful mess, but a mess none the less! I want to become a person of peace and one who can easily be at rest whether in pain or pain-free, stressed or not. I don't want to be controlled by my emotions. 


You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You,

because he trusts in You.  Isaiah 26:3
(...one of the verses I meditated one while I was in pain.)