Feel like life is fueled by stress?
Without it, would nothing get done?
Is life about constantly running from one event or meeting to the next?
Long for a week or two vacation, just sitting on the beach?
Welcome to the party. You are one of the millions of tension junkies that believe this is what normal life should be.
Yeah. We need stress. It’s the necessary fight or flight instinct. In modern life, encountering dangerous situations is rare, but, the instinct is always there. The human body is prepared for disaster. Tension junkies live in disaster mode everyday.
Among innumerable symptoms, prolonged stress breeds muscle atrophy and joint imbalance. Keeping the body in a high alert state creates significantly greater risk of petering out quickly…In other words, illness and ultimately death comes much faster. Nice thought, eh.
Constant stress and tension is unnecessary energy expended. It’s like running your car in the garage, day in and day out, keeping it ready because of the fear it might not work if you turn it off. By learning to release stress, muscles lengthen, energy in the mind and body is preserved, and happiness ensues.
As a tension junky, here’s the most important realization to grasp right now:
The biggest challenge in modern society is to stop, relax and turn inward. Letting go will be the hardest part.
There it is. Challenged defined. Once realized, begin to attempt simple relaxing techniques. Whatever can be done, be it 20 minutes or 2 minutes, will get you on your way to being a more centered person.
#1. Find 15 minutes of solitude to practice progressive relaxation. It’s kind of like reverse psychology for yourself. Lying down is best for this, although you can sit up. Spend a few moments investigating each part of the body, inhaling and contracting, or bracing the muscles. Slowly exhale, releasing the bracing completely. Letting the muscles feel warm and heavy, completely relaxed. Try it a couple times from head to toe. After, scan to see if there are any remaining tension spots and focus extra attention on them. Don’t skip a muscle: eyes, jaw, abdomen, even your toes.
#2. Find 10 minutes to focus on your breathing for relaxation. Inhale and take in fresh air and relaxation, slowly exhale out muscle stress and mind clutter, feeling your body sinking into the ground or chair.
#3. Find moments throughout the day when your stress responses are triggered. Your heart beats fast, breathing is shallow, flinching to avoid traffic, or the brain feels stressed. Recognize these moments and take a second to recover, breathing slowly, relaxing the muscles, and let your mind and body know that everything is okay. Being flexible and able to lower stress levels at will is great stress management.
Keep your brain in your body! Science has long separated the brain from the rest of the body. It is slowly bringing the two back together. Tension is not just held in your mind, it is held in the body, in every muscle and every cell. Research is beginning to coordinate movement, breathing, aesthetic therapies, even music and language skills, to create a more centered body and mind…a more healthy individual.
With that said, here is another stress lowering technique:
#4. Enjoyable exercise or activities brings stress levels down, and keeps the mind and body in balance.I must stress enjoyable. Treadmills might not cut it. Go Outdoors, swim, play an instrument, play with children, paint a picture, dance to music, find an outlet. Create your own release.
From an exercise perspective, effectively letting go of neck and shoulder tension, or hip tension, allows true movement from the center of the body. Keep this in mind when exercising. Explore different muscles in the core, by simply breathing and letting go.
Everyday life should be a balance of vacation and work, of stress and calm, of chaos and silence. Balance and flexibility make for a happier lifetime.