Archive for category Stress & Muscle Tension
This week was a rough week especially Wed through Friday. I knew a lot of things were bugging me again so I wrote those up. A lot of the things had to do with feeling pressure. Pressure at work. Feeling pressure and judgment from coworkers and my boss. Pressure from a family member on my life decisions. Pressure to be in a relationship. Pressure to push myself harder in my workouts. Pressure up get everything done for the holidays for everyone. By Thursday, I was buckling from the stress and just wanted to crawl under the covers in my bed, cry and hide from everyone. But, I didn’t because I couldn’t.
My therapist noticed the word I used, pressure. This is something I’ve felt my whole life. Pressure to be perfect, to anticipate what someone would want so they would not be angry with me and not hit me. Fearing judgement. Fearing pain.
I don’t know how to relax anymore. When I’m alone. When I’m with someone, I can learn to relax. The guy I’m dating is superb at this that I look forward to Sunday afternoons lounging around with him. I can finally relax and escape from all the pressure. But, it’s not the world that’s applying the pressure.
Today I actually admitted my caregiver beat me. And I admitted I have been belittling it my whole life. My therapist and SuperBetter ally both said this to me today, that through reliving we can take back our power. I realize how true this can be. I recognize that I’m applying the pressure and I can change that. I can finally take back my life and stop putting so much pressure and judgement on myself.
Awhile back I saw one of the SuperBetter Heroes on the forum who is also battling PTSD talk about anger. When I bought the workbook Healing the Trauma of Domestic Violence I thought, “Why do I need a chapter on anger?” I commented on the forum, I know anger is going to be something I need to address but I’m just not there yet. I’ve really suppressed my anger. I hardly ever express anger. Frustration and being upset, but not really anger. I read the chapter and noticed the day after reading it I started to be aware of the things that actually made me “angry” or upset. So I know it’s there. I just haven’t found the right way for me to express it yet.
I know when I was a kid there was one very important event where I learned that it’s better not to bottle everything up. I learned why it’s important to deal with anger, but never really learned how to.
The chapter drove home a principal that’s always been really important to me. I always felt being angry is a waste of time. It doesn’t resolve anything and it makes you feel terrible. But, this doesn’t mean you should suppress your anger and move on. It is much better to address your anger right then and there. I don’t think this means you should explode with rage like my ex-husband would, but you should talk about it and understand why you feel that way.
One of the reasons I also picked up the workbook Healing the Trauma of Domestic Violence was I noticed they had a whole section on controlling muscle tension. My entire life I have had muscle tension in my neck, shoulders, and shoulder blades. I also have lately noticed the tension in my triceps and jaw. I always thought that this was normal until I finally brought it up to someone and they just looked at me in horror and said, “That is not normal.” Tension and stress is definitely something I want to work on.
The workbook discusses several reasons why it’s important to keep your tension level low including:
1. In order to decrease your tension you need to be able to detect what your tension is
2. It’s easier to relax and bring your tension down if it is already low
3. High levels of tension impair your ability to think clearly
4. Bad habits are more likely to be activated when your tension is high
5. Chronic tension and hyper arousal can weaken you physically, including higher resting heart rates and blood pressure
6. Higher muscle tension levels make you more vulnerable to losing control, including panicking, losing your temper or breaking down
Walking through the exercises really helps to bring the tension down in my body.
The tension exercises in the workbook has you score your level of tension from 0-100. My favorite exercise from the workbook is to do a body scan and walk through each of the major muscle groups where you experience the most tension and tense them then let go of the tension until you can bring your tension levels down to 30 or lower. You can do this at any time of the day or anywhere really.
Go ahead and try the body scan:
1. What’s your tension score (0 being the calmest and 100 being the worst you’ve ever been)?
2. Where do you feel the most tension?
3. Take a deep breath for 5-10 seconds, then breath out and breath normally for 5-10 seconds.
4. Over tense the muscles with the most tension and then let it go. For example…
“Close your eyes real tight. Feel the tension in, around and behind your eyes and then relax your eyes, keeping your eyes gently closed.”
- “Straighten your arms in front of you, reaching across the room, and tense your triceps … and then relax your arms.”
- “Clench your jaws and study the tension throughout your jaws… and relax your jaws and let your lips part slightly.”
“Shrug your shoulders up. Now bring your shoulders back so you feel the tension in your shoulders and back … and relax.”
5. What’s your tension score now?
Repeat until your tension score is lower than 30.
Now to try to remember to do this and breath more often. I also find rolling out on a foam roller helps big time! But, that’s probably because I over do it exercising as I talked about in my previous post on Battles Against the Bad Guys. 😉