By KRS Edstrom



Dear KRS,
I have suffered a great deal of stress since my teenage years, and what I could only describe as a ‘black’ depressive period in my life five years ago, which coincided with extreme back pain. Five years later, I suffer from stomach problems as well. Question: Can stress cause these physical symptoms? If so, now that I have found the most wonderful partner, my true soul mate, and am blissfully happy... Is it possible, that the pain may subside?

Bad Childhood, Bad Back

P.S: No Physical Evidence was found by my GP or Chiropractor who are both confused by me!

Dear Bad Back,
Stress can absolutely cause or contribute to just about any physical or mental ailment. Since you are now in a satisfying relationship (congratulations!) you may find that some or all of your pain may subside.

However, I would take an active role in “helping it along” rather than the more passive role of “hoping.” Practice relaxation techniques and gentle stretches or yoga. Flexibility will help restore your energy flow throughout your body, reestablishing balance to body and mind.

Consider journaling about this “teenage angst” that got lodged in your body. Bring it up, then release it: write all about it, holding nothing back, then burn it with the resolve that it is now “permanently gone from my life.” 

You may want to also get some counseling to help guide you and shorten this journey. Pain can be such an insistent but wonderful teacher if the student is open. Don’t miss this chance to evolve.

Dear KRS,
Could you shed any light on TMJ? Is there anything that relieves the pain? This is a very painful jaw disease and any relief is welcomed.
TMJ Pain

Dear TMJ Pain,
TMJ (temporo-mandibular joint) disorder involves the jaw joint and surrounding muscles and often causes pain in the jaw, head or neck area. The muscles tighten and sometimes spasm and can cause pain when chewing and difficulty opening the mouth normally (some people experience a “click” in the jaw joint when opening).

TMJ is caused by certain dental work, arthritis or a trauma to your head but, perhaps most commonly, by clenching your teeth while sleeping (or even during waking hours). Stress is the usual culprit for this bad little habit.

When you are stressed, negative energy “backs up” without an outlet (unless you have some skills). To cope with the bad feelings associated with this negative energy, people with no skills unconsciously create their own ways of coping such as smoking, biting their fingernails, eating or clenching/grinding their teeth. It is really sad, because it is such self-abusive behavior. The good news is there are techniques to replace these negative coping methods.

This is a relatively simple technique I find works very well: As you are going to sleep, gently but firmly tell yourself that you are not going to clench your teeth tonight. Tell yourself that you deserve better and that you are not going to hold your problems in your jaw or anywhere else in your body. Visualize the jaw getting more and more relaxed. Feel the healing rays of the sun warming your jaw and “baking” out the toxins of stress.

Come up with more images of your own if you like. Your body is craving to “unlearn” the bad habit it has, so practiced with consistency your clenching habit will stop. Put a note on your bedside table to remind you.

Dear KRS,
I have just started with a personal trainer and now find that I am pregnant. Can I still carry on with the training? 
Pregnant Exerciser

Dear Pregnant Exerciser,
Keeping fit during pregnancy is the best thing for you and your baby. A fit mother will have more stamina than an unfit mother to get through a difficult labor and delivery. Recovery will also be better. Keep your workouts gentle versus going for the gold. Break a sweat but adhere to a “less is more” approach. Lay off weight training until after your delivery, as extreme straining may stress your body too much. Use common sense and listen to your doctor and your body.

KRS Edstrom, M.S., is an author, lecturer and columnist. She offers private sessions (by phone or in person) and seminars on meditation, stress, pain, weight loss. Her books and audios offer solutions for healthful, conscious living. For free soothing guided meditations and more information, visit Call (323) 851-8623 or email:


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