Stress, tension, dis-ease, unrest, when your body has had enough you feel it.  It may be a pinch in your neck, a crick in your back or feeling like your head is between two vice grips becoming ever so tighter.  Most of us sense when it has gotten this far, but few notice the symptoms when they are only whispers.  Where are you holding stress and tension and what is your body trying to tell you?

What are you holding in your hand right now?  A pen, mouse? A tablet, phone?  How is your grip, is it loose?  Relaxed?  Draw your attention to your fingers, to your hand, up your arm.  Most likely you are holding that thing as if someone is going to take it away and never give it back!  This is un-necessary tension.  We are adding undue stress onto our bodies all day long without a moments sense of awareness until it’s too late and the tension has become torture.  Continued tension held in the body can lead to health issues beyond the pain itself lending to chronic diseases and cancer.  

Back in the cave man days the flight or fight response served it’s purpose.  If we’d see a saber tooth tiger, we’d muster the energetic resources to fight or flee.  You were either successful or dead.  Today’s saber tooth tigers are much less dramatic and come with greater frequency and while our diets may be paleo our stress reactions are far from it.  We are stressed.  Assaulted daily from our outside world but also from our own selves with little direct outlet.  The fight stays within.

There is a direct connection to emotional stress and if not dealt with, how it shows up physically in our bodies.  Better addressing our stress includes giving some attention to our subconscious processing systems as well.  Where you hold stress in your body can give you clues to deeper level issues.  Our bodies are mirrors reflecting our emotions.  Tension in the shoulders can reflect resistance to your responsibilities or pressure on you to perform them.  Stiffness into the neck can indicate resistance to different ways of thinking or having to do something you don’t want to do.  In-flexibility in the core/mid back represents a psychological or emotional inflexibility.  The inability to go with the flow or release fears can be tied to mid back discomfort.  The lower back is the part of the body that supports your body weight.  It relates to notions of survival, security and feeling supported.  If you are feeling insecure and unable to meet others expectations or your own, or feelings of being a burden you may feel tension in your low back. Pay attention to your stress.  Where it is in your body and how it shows up.  Feel the tension and focus on it’s release.

You may not be ready to overhaul all the stressors in your life, but you can control your reactions to the stresses you do have.  The first step is noticing what you notice.  If you want to hear your body whisper, listen!  Do this right now. — Ask yourself, “Where am I holding tension?”  Scan your body. Start at the top or your head and work your way down.  Take notice of as many body parts as you can.   Wrinkle up your forehead, then relax it.  Clench your jaw shut, then relax.  Shrug your shoulders up, then drop them. Notice how much further down they drop.  How about your stomach, are you sucking in your gut?  Are you squeezing your buttocks together in your seat?  You’re not gonna fall off your chair!  Relax!  Your body is working hard enough. Relax your thighs, your calves.  Point and flex your feet.  Wiggle your toes.  Scan your full body again quickly and take a couple big deep breaths.  Breathe away the last of that tension.  Bring awareness to your body frequently throughout the day.  You will start to notice more little things as you practice.  The more you can release the unnecessary tension in your body the easier it will be to muster the resources during those times of true physical and emotional stress.   

Where do you stress?  Now stress less!  It is fascinating to think, with a little attention we could not only feel the tension at the onset but with practice start to also identify the source and address the root cause.  Fight or flight’s got nothing on us.  We’ve evolved.