feeling tension, stress tension, all tensed up, muscle pain , stressMuscular tension is a common sign of the effects of stress in the body. A sore neck, shoulder, low back and tension headache can possibly be telltale signs of chronic stress. Learn to ease muscular tension from stress with these helpful tips and techniques.

Chronic stress can physically take a toll on the body. Neck or back tension can become the commonplace. Constantly running in distress mode can shift a once healthy perception of bodily tension. As a result, the body has a more difficult time distinguishing between what truly is a real psychological or physical stress response. The “flight or fight” mode operates at full throttle, which places the body at risk for illness or injury. Learning to reduce muscular tension is vital for your health and well-being. Here are four simple ways to go from tensed up to be relaxed.

1. Body Scanning.

Denial is a strong defense mechanism when dealing with the effects of stress. Oftentimes people learn to operate in day to day activities ignoring the symptoms of stress. Body scanning is a technique that helps bring awareness back problem tension areas. This technique can help nip muscular aches in the bud before chronic problems arise.

Scan your body for areas of tension. Is your jaw clenched? Check your posture for hunched, rounded shoulders, tight back leg and calf muscles. Note any other areas of discomfort. Gently stretch or reposition the tense body part. This practice may seem to take time at first but should take 10-20 seconds when performed regularly.

2. Breathing

A response to stress is shallow breaths, or chest breathing. On the other hand deep breathing fills the lungs with life-giving oxygen. Here is a method to practice diaphragmatic or deep breathing. While lying on your back, place your hands on your abdomen near your naval. Take deep breaths, feeling the rise and fall of your abdominal area. This technique will not only oxygenate your body but also will help improve circulation, increase alertness and help decrease anxiety.

3. Relaxation Techniques

There are a variety of relaxation techniques that can simply be practiced each day. Recordings and smart phone applications are readily available to reduce muscular tension quickly and easily.

The progressive muscle relaxation technique gently tenses up and relaxes muscle groups. This method is similar to body scanning, recognizing the difference between muscle tension and relaxation. Most pre-recorded material begins tensing and relaxing muscle groups at the feet and ending at the head. Tense each muscle group for five seconds, and then relax for a total of 30 seconds. If you feel pain and soreness ease up on the tension or stop immediately. Never force the movement.

This practice uses body awareness to help regulate the stress response by switching your nervous system from “flight or fight” to “rest and digest” mode.  In a reclined position, imagine each body feeling warm, heavy and relaxed. Then progress to the next body part and repeat.

4. Massage

Massage and bodywork can be a powerful opportunity to address stress relief and muscular tension. Massage therapy can ease tension headaches, improve posture and help strengthen the immune system. Regular massage therapy appointments are an imperative part of stress management. A massage therapist can also instruct in proper stretching techniques to reduce tension between massages. Find a skilled and knowledgeable massage therapist to be a part of your stress and tension relief toolbox.

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16 thoughts on “Stress Relief: Four Simple Ways to Go From Tensed Up to Relaxed”

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  4. Lisa, excellent tips on managing stress. For myself, I tend to breathe shallowly when I am tense, so thanks for that reminder to deep breathe!

  5. Thanks for all the solid tips Lisa! I accually had a body scan done last fall and it was very helpful in addition to the other things you listed things are moving along well.

  6. I like these simple tips, Lisa, especially the one about doing a body scan. It's so important to "check in" with yourself from time to time. A minute ago my posture was not so great, but you got me to change that! 🙂

  7. Thanks for the great tips, Lisa! I really love #1 Body Scan and when you wrote, "Scan your body for areas of tension. Is your jaw clenched? Check your posture for hunched, rounded shoulders, tight back leg and calf muscles. Note any other areas of discomfort." I appreciate you sharing your great knowledge and wisdom 🙂

  8. Can your muscles actually get In a habit of tensing up I have been suffering with aching legs for many months now after my anxiety started an feel that I’m struggling to relax them even though my anxiety is a lot better ??


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