How to stop gaining grey hair by shoulder shrugging.

In 2016 I made the decision to quit a job at a company that I had a deep and strong connection with. It was like family. The day it was announced to the team I felt like I had a hangover after 3 days of party. I sweat, I concentrate, let alone get any work done. In the weeks leading up to it I got my first grey hair and even worse, I got problems with my jawbone as I started to grind my teeth at night.

That's called stress. A lot of it. Over the course of 2 years, the jawbone problem went worse so much so that there were times when I couldn't eat anymore because of pain. I went to the dentist who gave me braces for the night without much success. In 2018, I decided to tackle the problem head on.

  1. Putting myself into physiotherapy to work on the muscles around my jaw.
  2. Get to a proper orthodontist, recommended by my physiotherapist, to check my grinding and what to do to prevent it
  3. Work on the root cause: why am I grinding my teeth in the first place?

The Physiotherapist and Orthodontist did some great work but the game changer came after actively working on reducing my stress level. Here's what I did.

  1. Active chilling
    Take a few hours during the week to actively not do anything. Going into the park for 2 hours without phone and not thinking about work.
  2. Meditation
    As mentioned before, I started meditating 10 minutes every day in the morning
  3. Stop giving every fuck
    The biggest factor in it. The things that stressed me out from 2016 to 2018 were work related topics that frustrated me. Things I sometimes couldn't even change or miserably failed when I tried to - these were problems in other teams, not my own. But I felt it affected the customer, product or organisation negatively and I wanted to change it. What helped me was picking the fights I could win. Focusing my energy on the things I'm able to influence and if other things are not going the way my high standards demanded, I would simply say fuck it 🤷‍♂️. This simply isn't my problem.

Don't get me wrong, the first two helped a lot but point 3 really changed it. I'm not suggesting I don't give a shit about what is happening, not at all - but I am not loading the burden of every problem onto my shoulders anymore. Especially not from people resistant to change.

When I visited my dentist again in the end of 2018, my pain was completely gone. I told him how I did it and he was stunned. Most of his patients do not care about the root cause and simply treat the symptoms. Every once in a while though, the problems come back.

So I can't say my jawbone recovered 100% yet - it takes time and sometimes I do feel stress again. But I'm much, much more conscious about it and work on it as soon as possible. Exercise, meditation, active relaxing and shrugging off work related problems outside or work is the key. Health obviously comes first.