Generations ago, if we found ourselves in danger, our fight or flight response was triggered. Automatically our muscles tensed up so we can react physically — just in case we had to defend ourselves. However, once the threat has passed, the muscles released the tension, allowing the body to ease back to a natural state.
There are perceived threats everywhere…
Nowadays, we now live and work in an environment which too often leads to a triggering of the fight or flight response by situations that don’t require combat.
In the office, we are not supposed to be under attack — there are no tigers, lions or bears. These days, going to work can seem like going to war in the jungle — we never know what we will face. As soon as we enter through the door, our muscles tense up, preparing us for battle.
That is why many people are carrying around a lot of excessive muscle tension during their regular workday activities.
Symptoms of stress
Usually, the more stress we are under, the more it affects our muscular system. When muscles are on edge all the time, physical suffering is bound to happen. Many people are suffering from neck pain, shoulder pain, and headaches, and don’t even realize these are symptoms of stress.
Muscle tension can have an impact on your posture
At some point, all that tension creeps into your shoulders. Slowly but surely, our head starts to sinks down into your body while your shoulders rise from the back. Before you know it, you are hunched over and, usually leaning to the side.
When all is said and done, bad posture will lead to chronic pain, especially in the lower back area. Slouching over puts a lot of stress on the spine. Bad posture can also increase levels of cortisol — which can trigger “fight or flight” responses.
If you feel ever-increasing muscle tension in your body, it might be a good idea to invest in:
- deep breathing exercises
- more physical exercise
- more sleep
- better posture
What is posture?
Posture is the position in which we hold our bodies while standing, sitting, or lying down. Good posture is the correct alignment of body parts supported by the right amount of muscle tension against gravity, asserts the American Chiropractic Association.
How to check your posture
According to Peggy W. Brill, start by checking yourself in a mirror. If your palms face your thighs with the thumbs pointing ahead, that’s okay. But if your palms face backward, you’re probably slouching.
Try to be conscious of your posture. Stand straight and tall with your shoulders pulled backward. Practice sitting straight up with your shoulders, back, and spine. Consider visiting a chiropractor for regular adjustments.
With all that said, if you want to relieve muscle tension learning effective stress management techniques is a game changer.