ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Stress Management: How to Relax in an Instant Using the Mind-Body Connection

Updated on July 4, 2009

Immediate Relief of Mental Stress

Everyone experiences stress, from an elderly woman with a bad hip trying to cross a busy street to a baby crying for food. Over time, stress doesn’t just deplete our body’s resources and wear us down mentally and emotionally, but it creeps deep into the body and creates an environment in which disease can thrive.

There are all sorts of environmental stressors that the body must endure on a constant basis, such as air pollution and impurities in food and water and the accumulation of toxins from improper digestion and poor sleeping habits, but the body must also endure mental stress: Tension created internally from our own thoughts and how we react to the world around us.

What most people don’t realize about mental stress is that it manifests in the body. When our thoughts and emotions create stress, we hold it physically. Some people “store” this stress in their shoulders (or more accurately, their trapezius muscles), face (such as scowling), jaw (gritting the teeth), stomach (“butterflies” or cramping) and so on.

Because most people do not realize that they are storing this stress in their bodies, and even if they do, they consider it to be a side effect of stress. They do not realize that it is easy to develop a relaxation response to instantly abate mental stress. And this is because they simply were never taught how to do so. Some people will try to combat mental stress with positive self talk, or attempt to distract their thoughts by focusing on something else. But in most cases, people become consumed by the stress of a new, seemingly negative event (someone cutting them off in traffic, the boss increasing their workload, their spouse nagging them) and spiral into a pattern of cynicism or anger that only increase the mental tension.

A much better and more powerful way to deal with mental stress is to take advantage of the mind-body connection. Just as the mind stores negative thoughts in the body by becoming tense, the body can reverse the mental stress by relaxing that part of the body that normally holds stress. This information is powerful, and its benefits should not to be taken lightly.

For example, let us consider a man named Joe whose face and stomach tightens whenever he finds himself under great mental stress. Joe is going through a divorce and is unable to concentrate at his job. Throughout the day, his thoughts drift to how unreasonable his ex is being, or wondering how he will deal with his accumulating debt, and why his boss won’t cut him a little slack. So throughout the day, unconsciously, Joe tightens his face, furrowing his brow, squinting his eyes, breathing shallowly. Joe is unable to get his mind off of his problems, and the more he thinks about them, the more hopeless his situation seems. But let’s imagine that some kindly soul in his office approaches him and tells him about the method that I am about to share with you from my years of teaching Chi Kung.

Joe’s friend, Bob, says that it’s clear that Joe is stressed out and Bob advises Joe to 1) ask himself where in his body is he storing his stress and tension; and 2) once he becomes aware of where the tension is being stored, to draw his attention to those parts of his body and tell them to relax.

Joe can feel the tension around his eyes, so in his mind, he tells his eyes to relax, his eye brows to relax, his face to relax, and he is surprised that his face instantly responds. Not only that, as soon as he tells his face to relax and it does, Joe immediately felt less tension and negative thoughts in his mind. Joe also realized that he was holding stress in the pit of his stomach, so he tells his stomach to relax and takes a deep, slow breath. It has the same effect: Instant relaxation.

Thereafter, each time Joe feels tension building up from negative thoughts, he tells his face and stomach to relax, and by doing so, Joe is able to avoid the negative spiral that would usually drain his energy.



So try it yourself the next time you feel pressure, strain, or stress brought on by your thoughts.

1) Ask yourself where you in your body you are holding the stress;

2) Tell that part of your body to relax

If the tension is in your shoulders/trapezius muscles, tell those muscles to relax and let your shoulders drop.

The more you use this relaxation technique, the more instant and powerful it will become, and you will learn how to instantly relax anywhere, anytime, no matter the circumstances.

Please feel free to share your experiences trying this method of stress management in the comments below!

Cheers!

RKW

Note: This article is for addressing mental stress and how it stores tension in the body. If you have pain from environmental factors such as an injury or poor posture, that type of pain is not (solely) the result of mental stress and you should consult a professional practitioner such as a doctor or physiotherapist for such issues.


Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image

      DR.RISHI 

      6 years ago

      I am a physician by profession,now I am dealing with stress management.After reading your article about stress is lodged in different part of body is very much right observation.Recently I came across a case,he is of 28 yrs of age working in softwere company had tension is in hisshoulders/trapezius muscles.only relaxation technique had helped him to come out of problem.

      DR.RISHI

    • RKWilliams profile imageAUTHOR

      RKWilliams 

      9 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      I'm very glad that you find the information in this article useful! It's very important to prevent negativity from getting a stranglehold. Once cynicism becomes a habit, it's difficult to break.

    • profile image

      Eleni Norva 

      9 years ago

      This was very helpful! Sometimes anxiety can overwhelm me, making me feel out of control, but this article explains how I CAN control one aspect of the physical manifestation of stress at a time, to help prevent a negative chain of reactions that can result in even more stress! A simple awareness can work wonders!

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)