How to Use Tension in a Productive Way

Photo by Monica Leonardi

We tend to want to eliminate completely built-up stress, either through activities that clear our mind, such as meditation or exercise, or through activities that give us pleasure at the expense of our long-term wellbeing – drinking, stress eating etc. Focusing on tension release without accounting for the long-term impact of how we do it creates a bigger negative impact in the long run than the immediate positive effect.

Experiencing tension is a good opportunity to pause and understanding what led us to this moment. Is it frustration with our own decisions or some things that are outside of our control. Once we understand the root cause, we can empower ourselves to change the way we react to situations. Reactions are natural, but they are also specific to each individual. We react based on what we perceive as normal. A broader example is how some cultures celebrate death, while others celebrate the birth of a child. Our values are specific to us.

Tension is our body and brain reacting to events throughout the day and storing a sense of alertness that cannot be maintained for a long period of time. Managing tension is a life skill that allows us to clear out the clouds and see the sky clearly. Under a clear sky we are more likely to stick to our path than in semi-darkness. Also, seeing more friends than threats in people will attract more kindness.

If You’re Stressed, Worried or Annoyed, Something Has to Change

Photo by Jason Wong

Looking around us, we see enough examples of people who settle to live in a rhythm and emotional frequency that is not sustainable, nor is it healthy. Running from one place to another, wearing themselves off and doing little to grow strong, healthy relationships. To some, this may seem like the only way further. But knowing that stress and all the negative emotions are poisonous to our bodies must be enough to encourage change.

There are different ways to experience life, and choosing kindness, generosity and good intentions makes room for growth, while envy, selfishness and negativity is detrimental to the surroundings and to the host. It can be challenging at times to see hate and answer with love, but it’s the only way in which we can protect ourselves and others as much as we can. Through fairytales we learn that dark magic costs one’s soul. Why did we ever think that letting anger or sadness in would have a different result?

Breathe In and Take Control Over Your Actions

Photo by Nine Köpfer

We pride ourselves with our ability to think, but when it comes to pressure and perceived threats we are not always making conscious decisions. From ‘I can’t find my keys before going to work’ to fear of public speaking, deadlines or our views being challenged – everything takes a certain level of awareness. Panic leaves little room to clear thinking.

Long-term practices such as meditation or floatation tanks deal with the backlog of accumulated stress, but what can we do in the moment? It’s as easy as breathing, but taking deep breaths isn’t a natural reaction when our heart is racing. This is why it’s good to have prompts either around the place (environmental design) or a person that can keep you accountable and guide you.

It takes strength to acknowledge the weakness of when our prefrontal cortex takes over. Once we accept the reality of the situation, we can move through regulating our body, telling it to obey us and then plan according to what the reality is, rather than what it looks like.

Work Stress: When the Employer Thinks They’re Getting More of You

Stress has its way around the human mind and body. And then when you’re stressing about taking time off to deal with that build-up of stress, things can only grow in complexity.

‘The Employer’ should not be seen as the business owner or the CEO. ‘The Employer’ is often-times people who get a few more pennies in their bank account than you, have a few more opinions than you which they tend to express a bit too often in not too nice of a way.

When the aforementioned employer thinks they get more of you, what they do get is more of the less of you. Less of you means less interest, less focus, less clarity to make things work. Less reasons to smile and less empathy for the people around you.

Stress might go unseen, but it won’t go unfelt. Look after yourself when others don’t know or care to know how to.

Stress. The Most Stressed Person. Ever. Wins?

People close to me seem to honour the stress god. It might be that they associate stress with commitment. With ‘I care, OMG I care so much! No one cares about this as much as I do’ rather than ‘I care, but I can also think clear because I’m not panicking’.

Having control over the present moment and over our thoughts in the now goes hand in hand with eliminating stress.

You know when you receive an email asking you to deliver results within a timeframe that is simply not doable? Just say it. Don’t ‘feel like you should do more’, say realistically what can be achieved. This will eliminate the pressure of sacrificing yourself for the demands of a person who might very well not even know what they’ve asked of you.

‘Stress doesn’t come from the facts, stress comes from the meaning that we give the facts.’

Tony Robbins

Accumulating stress is not a good track record to have. Prioritise what you most care about.

Is it your work? You need a clear head to make intelligent decision and stay on top of your game.

Your family? They need a calm and loving you.

Money? You can’t sell stress, what are you pilling it up for?

A deep breath often does the trick. Try and take a step back and asses the situation. Are you the most stressed person in this whole wide world? Congrats. What is it that you’ve won?