It has come to my attention lately that I like to hold onto things with tremendous force. It's as if I'm worried whatever I'm holding might just slip from my grasp and be lost to me forever. I have to surmise that this is a habit I've had for much of my life because I'm so freakishly good at it. When I'm driving, I hold on for dear life. When I'm reading a book, it doesn't rest in my hands, no, it has little chance of escaping my grip. When I'm writing, I bear down on the pen or pencil and ensure that each letter is dark and visible against the white paper.
Even more times I death grip shit: when I'm brushing my teeth, when I'm loofah-ing in the shower, when I hold my phone, when I hold silverware as I eat, when I'm grabbing my keys, when I'm putting on lip balm, when I try and relax with those adult coloring books (damn that).
I've become more aware of this habit as I've been developing some pain in my wrists and lower arms. Now, I've been typing a lot more lately and I know that is a contributor, but my death grip sure as hell doesn't help. It doesn't help my wrists, it doesn't help the muscles in my neck or shoulders, and it doesn't help my mental health.
The ways in which bodies hold physical stress only contribute to the mental stress, and my mental stress becomes corporeal in other ways. Ways that I know I've been developing since I was a kid.
My hands aren't the only part of my body that death grips, my legs do too. If ever my husband and I play wrestle, I know I can bring him down if I just position myself to where I'm pulling on him with my legs. If I get him wrapped up in my meaty thighs, there's no way he's escaping. Between the death grip in my hands and my legs, my body is practically never at ease. Even at night, I death grip my teeth. I just might whittle them down to little white nubs at the rate I grind them in my sleep. And lately, I find myself unconsciously grinding and locking my jaw during the day!
I know I'm starting to sound a little whiny, but all this has been to say that I'm becoming aware of these problems so I can FIX them. I'm conscious of my death grip now, so I can loosen up. I'm aware of the way I hold my jaw tight and locked so I can give it a rest and more importantly, I'm starting to develop strategies like placing my tongue over the top of my molars so I'm not tempted to bite down.
I don't like what stress does to me. It strips me of playfulness and makes me tired, so I'm going to do what I can to stop these physical manifestations so that my body can be calm, which in turn will make my mind calm. In addition to noticing and halting myself from death grips, I know that even two minutes a day of mindful breathing can help me start to respond to stress in healthier ways.
Go forth, will you, and develop strategies to halt the surfacing of corporeal stress, because once it's in your teeth, hands, shoulders, legs or wherever it wants to go, it's a bitch.