How to Decrease Tension
There are multiple ways throughout our day to Reduce our Tension. Let’s go Pillar by Pillar and see what we can do.
Pillar I – Nutrition
Anything that we eat or drink that does not agree with our systems will be something that overall promotes Tension. It may be in the form of gut problems, low-grade sinus congestion, brain fog we then have to fight through, or general fatigue that makes life seem harder. The more we can eliminate those substances that make us feel worse and our Tension go up, the better our E > T = J balance gets. As described elsewhere, the Elimination Diet protocol is the quickest and most thorough way of identifying and weeding out those foodstuffs that are giving us problems. You can figure it out in as little as 7-10 days.
Pillar II – Exercise/Movement
As described in the Increasing Energy section, movement is vital for restoring Energy. It is equally as vital for Reducing Tension. Bodies need to move. We get enormous benefits physically on Reducing Tension just by the exercise itself. It helps our bodies clean stuff out. Additionally, one of the ways we enhance the benefit of our Exercise is to connect it mentally and emotionally with the discharge of Tension. Next time you are exercising, check in with where in your body you are holding Tension. What’s tight? What muscles or areas are sore and hurting? Visualize as you exercise that you are channeling that Tension out through the exercise. If you’re feeling angry, feel the anger pounding out through your feet as you walk or run. Or feel it discharge through your arms in punching motions or on a punching bag. If it’s an area that feels safe, let tension out through sounds so that your throat stays open. Put the Tension even out through your breathing!
Pillar III – Sleep/Rest
As discussed in Increasing Energy, sleep and rest mainly serve to restore Energy. At the same time there is benefit for Tension Reduction to allow our systems to have time to process. There’s wisdom behind that adage to “sleep on it”. It’s a way of letting our systems move through the fog of Tension to better clarity. Time to rest and reflect as well as process in our dreams and sleep is crucial to our rhythm and Reducing Tension.
Pillar IV – Stress Reduction
This is probably the most significant Pillar for the Tension Reduction part of the E > T = J equation. Tension at its most basic level is some form of not feeling safe, not feeling things are ok, not feeling that we’re enough and that there are lots of problems to fix before things will be “better”. All of these internal states translate physiologically into bodily Tension.
Our bodies hate holding on to Tension.
They also have enormous Wisdom about how to discharge it. But we have to listen.
Our heads like to control stuff. It’s one of our primary ways of setting up a false sense of security and safety. We relax when we feel like everything’s “under control”. The problem is it’s a delusion. Huge amounts of what happens to us in life, every day, is very much beyond our control. So, the constant push inside to try to control it is a losing game, but we tend to keep playing anyway.
Reducing the emotional Tension of the body requires first putting that controlling head element aside and trusting our bodies. Most of us were not taught to do that by our upbringings and our culture at large, so it can be challenging. But taking a step against those patterns of control is like getting temporarily rid of a jailer that is keeping the door to your cell locked. There’s an opportunity for freedom. Taking a risk to actually trust your body usually requires getting lots of head control and chatter out of the way for at least a few minutes.
So, how do we do that?
Some of the best ways are described in the essay by Dan Jones on Worry.
I’m also going to make a short form of suggestions here:
1. Have a safe place for the process (means you won’t be criticized, analyzed, humiliated, given unsolicited advice, etc). It can be alone or with a safe other.
2. Notice in your body where you hold tension. Stomach/abdomen? Lower back? Upper neck and shoulders?
3. Breathe deeply in and out through that area.
4. Open your heart to that area with the intention of allowing it to discharge its pain and tension in whatever way it wants. This point is crucial. The head part is the part of us that starts controlling it and deciding what the “rules” are about what can be expressed and how. The only rule is that it doesn’t hurt you or somebody else. And, further, fully felt feelings, in and of themselves, hurt no-one (something else we are seldom taught in our cultures).
5. Go with the first intuitive thought or urge that arises. If my legs feel full of Tension, I may need to stomp and pound. If my belly is tight sounds or anger might emerge as I allow space for it. If my throat area feels tight like a vice, I may need to let out a yell. If my upper shoulders/neck area is very tight, as I breathe tears may come. Whatever arises, go with it fully. Let your body completely discharge what is there until it feels lighter. The more fully we engage it and let go to it, the more quickly our bodies clean out the Tension that is there. Then we get a not only a lighter body, but more Energy. Trust that your body knows what it is doing. What follows are some basic ways our bodies discharge Tension and typical benefits.
Types of Discharge
Yawning and Stretching
Benefits of Discharge
Reduced Tension/Addiction Drive
More intimacy in relationships
Sense of humor returns
Pillar V – Connectedness
As discussed in the Increasing Energy section [make link], Connectedness is mostly about Increasing our Energy. However, it also serves a deep function of Tension Reduction. We all crave feeling safe. A prominent physiological/therapeutic theory, the Polyvagal Theory, constructed by Stephen Porges, Ph.D, describes how we are all on a “biological quest for safety”. It is hard-wired into our systems. When we feel more deeply connected to ourselves, those around us, our world, and something larger than ourselves, our bodies relax because we feel safer. We feel the cradling safe support of the universe at large and that we are loved. It doesn’t get any better than that. See the Increasing Energy section [link] for suggestions on how to Connect.
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