How to Win Worry and Lose Your Teeth

I have been grinding my teeth in my sleep.

A recent visit to the dentist confirmed what I had been suspecting for a while now.

One of my front teeth has been throbbing like hell. Not a painful throb, just a constant irritating shout in my skull, like an angry and persistent toddler crying for attention.

It’s worn away slightly. Nothing major and nothing that requires an expensive dental intervention, just time and a high level of personal dental care. But it has worn away enough to make the tooth very sensitive to food, saliva and, my person favourite, the biting cold!

For three weeks it has been playing up, and it has been making me feel as black as death.

To be fair, the irritable throbbing has been slowly diminishing, but it begs the question – why have I been grinding my teeth in my sleep?

It is not something I have done before and, while teeth grinding Is actually a very common phenomenon, it only happens as a result of stress, anxiety, medication side effects, sleep disorders and unhealthy lifestyle habits.

I can very easy eliminate medication side effects, sleep disorders and unhealthy lifestyle habits, because they do not apply to me.

However – stress and anxiety – YES, they very much do apply to me at the moment!

Or, rather, stress and anxiety can be summed up as all the many, many, MANY things I have been attempting to get down in the past month… and whenever I am super-stressed, anxiety latches onto me like a life-draining parasite of constant dark and depressing dread.

Yet, usually I am very good with handling stress, it’s something I encounter quite often and I have had quite bit of practice with dealing with it over the years.

In my very first year of university, I suffered a major dent in my personal health as a result of stress harassing me with anxiety… and ever since then I have sworn to be very conscious of my health and to keep it in good shape. It’s also one of the reasons why I meditate on a daily basis.

However, it seems that over the last month, I have dropped the ball somewhat. In fact, I know I have dropped the ball… off a massive cliff edge, because when I think back through all the things I have been doing over the past month, I can’t tell you what I have been doing. My memory is just one massive blur.

And I think my teeth grinding in my sleep has been the outlet or all that unresolved stress and anxiety over all the things I have been trying to get down… and, ultimately, not getting done, with just an ever accumulating crumpled mess of worried information inside my head, because I have been trying to do too much all at once.

I have just been overthinking things too much.

A friend told me that I tend to overthink everything and that it was not a good thing to do.

I half agreed with her.

Overthinking that brings about a negative state of mind – such as I have done over the past month and which my achy, breaky tooth has been telling me to stop doing – is certainly not a good form of overthinking.

But there is also a positive form of overthinking. I am talking about the type of persistent and expansive and open-minded overthinking that allows you to see the world through a big picture lens. Pattern recognition thinking that allows you to identify meaningful trends in our information saturated world that can ultimately supply you with a strategically competitive advantage in many different endeavours.

But all the big picture observations I have been making and what I plan to do with them can wait for the time being.

The point is if you do not do anything with all those big picture observations and you just leave them to sit and fester and worry inside your head… then you end up in a negative and agitated state of mind… that is more commonly known as ruminating or overthinking.

As soon as I found out I had definitely been grinding my teeth in my sleep, I dropped EVERYTHING and spent a few days relaxing, destressing and Netflixing.

Then I found my head slowly reset itself and its picture lens on all the things I need to get done have become clearer.

And one of the things that has been on my to-do list from the past month has been getting this long overdue blog kickstarted into life.

I have been overthinking how to start it and what observations and writing I have already done to put on it first.

To hell with that.

I just need to start it and make it up as I go along.

So, here goes.

And it is certainly much easier to write now that my tooth has stopped throbbing… which means I’ve stopped my sleep hobby of destroying my teeth.



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