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What Causes Tension and How to Relieve It

This is page 4 of "Relax Your Way to Better Health (and Energy)".

Tension 2.jpgMoving away from the eyes and back to the body as a whole, the question naturally arises, what causes this build-up of tension in the body? Why can't we relax?

I think there are two primary reasons (which I learned from DeAnna Hansen). When you do something repetitively, such as sitting all day at a desk and working on a computer, your muscles are tensed in certain repetitive patterns. This causes repeated muscle fatigue.

Posture is a big component of this. As I lean forward and bend my head forward while working at the computer, the muscles in my neck and back are forced to work harder, trying to hold the weight of my body up against gravity. The muscles in the front of my neck and stomach are shortened and lose tone, becoming permanently contracted (like the muscles in the eyes with nearsightedness).

Unless I do things to deliberately stretch those muscles that are being shortened and relax the muscles that are overworking, I will throw my body posture out of alignment and create permanent stress, which will drain my body's capacity to hold energy.

That's the mechanical cause of tension, but there is also an emotional cause. Children are very supple and have a high energy level, but this is also because they lack emotional "body armor." They are naturally genuine and spontaneous in their emotions and movements. As we get older, we learn to hide our emotional nature and create tension in the body to inhibit our natural feelings and movements. This is why we call such tension body armor.

Body armor allows us to suppress emotions we don't want to feel or express, but it also robs us of energy. The tension we create by trying to hold back our feelings drains our capacity for storing energy. I've noticed that when I'm able to release emotional tension, physical tension is also released and my energy levels increase.

Releasing TensionRelaxing 1.jpg

So, how can you go about releasing tension? The answer is simple—by deliberately finding ways to relax and elongate (stretch) tense muscles. Stretching, deep breathing, taking short breaks, and focusing on relaxing your muscles are valuable techniques for building energy.  Taking herbs like kava kava, lobelia and skullcap and the mineral, magnesium can also be helpful.

Another thing we can do is to get in touch with our feelings and find constructive ways to express them. Sometimes we need to cry, throw a temper tantrum, or play like a child, as these release tension. We just need to find constructive ways to “let go” of these inhibiting tensions that make up our body armor.

The hardest thing to do, but also one of the most productive, is to learn how to avoid getting tense and frantic when we have a lot of things to do. For instance, I know that both my energy level and my eyes benefit when I take frequent short breaks from my computer work. When I take a few minutes to stretch my muscles in the opposite direction that sitting in my chair and working at the computer does, this also helps my body relax. It also gives me more energy and allows me to work longer without fatigue.

Just doing 15-30 minutes of stretching and relaxing in the morning has been helping my energy level tremendously. Of course, I still eat healthy, detoxify, take appropriate supplements and so forth, but relaxing my muscles was the key I was missing in my search for more energy.

So, if you need more energy, I encourage you not to think solely in terms of how to create and discharge more energy. Think about how you can relax your body and recharge its energy-carrying capacity. Make time for little breaks that allow you to stretch, relax and recharge. I think you'll find that my Dad's secret really works.

Suggested Further Reading

The Body Has Its Reasons by Therese Berterat and Carol Bernstein

Yoga for Wimps: Poses for the Flexibility Impaired by Miriam Austin and Barry Kaplan

Bioenergetics by Alexander Lowen

Love, Sex and Your Heart: The Health-Happiness Connection by Alexandar Lown

Love Your Body Beautiful by DeAnna Hansen and Steven Horne

Health and Beauty DVD from Tree of Light