Not all tension is bad. In fact, a reasonable amount of tensions is good and essential for life. This is evident when we realize that every human effort involves some tensions. When we look up, our eyes become tense. When we move our head, muscles in our neck tighten. When we eat, dress, walk and talk, everything we do involves a certain amount of tension. The object, therefore, is not to do away with all tensions, but to modify and control excess tensions.
Too much tension can be harmful both to body and mind. Excess tension is born of one’s thought. It grows by the way one thinks about things or by the way one sees them or feels them. A tense person, therefore, is at mercy of his or her thoughts.
Directly or indirectly, excess tension is responsible for most common of disorders, such as high blood pressure, ulcers and heart attacks. It also produces nervousness, irritability, excess worry, insomnia, speech disorders and psychosis. It is the single cause of fatigue and depression. It is said to be more prevalent than the common cold and is regarded as the “chief killing disease” today.
How are most at risk?
What sort of person is likely to succumb to the ravages of tensions? Evidence shows that the aggressive, highly emotional and energetic people are most susceptible to tensions. These people seem to tackle their assignments restlessly, without adequate physical or mental relaxation.
They do work and get far in their fields as long as they last. They bottle up their emotions and keep a calm face to world, at least when they are away from home. They are not neurotics or psychopaths but simply persons who are more exposed to tensions precipitating factors. Their condition does not spell disaster, but it requires attention.
Are you suffering from stress? How can you tell? Tense people usually talk about being all pinned up inside, they feel as if they are going to explode. Very often it is the sufferer’s way of saying he or she feels tensions building up.
Overly tense persons are fidgety with their arms and legs. They often complain about the weather, the food or their health. As a rule they speak fast, in a high pitch and slur their words or even stammer. Insomnia and annoyance are almost always indication of excess tenseness. So is nail-biting. Persistent headaches, usually in the back of the head, are a sign too. All this are some of indications of excessive tenseness.
What are some major causes of tensions?
Most abnormal tensions are usually connected with or arise from one’s relations with other persons. They build up as a result of personality clashes, injustices or when a person is affected by injustices, heavy jobs requirements or when a person is subject to unpleasant living and working conditions.
Take an example of work tense condition. In the last decade or so some businesses have grown so fast that companies have trouble finding enough experienced men to fill top job. Consequently, young people are put into positions of great responsibility without proper training and before they are ready for them. To make good, these young people have put everything they have to put everything they have into their work. As a result, they become tense, and in short order they develop spastic colons, ulcer and what have you.
A good example is a case of a thirty-seven-year-old man who was made vice-president over a group of men who had more experience than he. The young man was very conscientious worker, a natural manager, the examining doctor said. “But no one took the trouble to build him up, to tell him why they thought he was fit for the job and to give him that necessary pat on the back.” The young vice-president died of heart attack not long after he took office. The doctor said: “I am sure a contributing cause was a promotion made too rapidly without sufficient preparation.”
What about home conditions? In some cases, wives have been found to be the cause of husband’s tensions. They pressurize their husbands to maintain their lavish lifestyles. This results in tensions on the part of the husband affecting his home life.
On the other hand, some husbands too are often responsible for their wives tensions. They verbally or physically abuse their wives until they dread to see them come home. Children also become tense when father and mother do not get along or when parents expect more of them than they are actually capable of delivering. If goals are set too high, the child becomes frustrated trying to meet them. Thus he or she learns to hate school and cringes at the sight of his or her parents.
Indeed, not all people react the same way to stress. Some people thrive under pressure, while others are made sick by it. One man can laugh off personality clashes and problems. When confronted with a pile of work, he will roll up his sleeves and wade into it gusto. But, on the other hand, another man just as qualified is hurt by the behavior of others and is distresses by the very sight of heaped-up work. He becomes tense, nervous or sick.
However, the basic fact is that tension is often closely related with irregular living habits. Living habits are not easily changed, but they can be with conscientious effort. A more relaxed life can be more rewarding than one affected by tension. So how can you cope with tension?
How to relieve or deal with tension?
Since tension is created by the individual by the way one thinks about things or by the way one sees them or feels about them, tension release must be brought about by individual thought control. This calls for a constant vigilance upon the part of the individual to examine and reexamine ones thinking in relation to one’s own reaction to things that affect his or her life. When one learns to control pressures by taming one’s thinking process, one can achieve a poise and stability that will free him or her from abnormal pressure.
Success will not come from a half- hearted effort nor will it come overnight. It will take determination, persistence and time. Yet the result will be worth the effort, whether yours is an occasional mild case of tension or one that is more severe.
The first step is to be able to recognize what is wrong. This is often easier to determine than finding a solution. The best thing that one can do at times is to find suggestions that may serve to arrest the harmful effects until something else can be done to put an end to them permanently. Just to tell tense people to relax or forget their troubles and every will be alright, does little if any good. The heavy mental expectancies that have been built up must be removed. The sufferer alone knows what these expectancies are and must wrestle with them until one finds a way to dispel them.
Those tense during the daylight hours must see that they get at least eight hours of sleep. This is essential. Telling others how you feel also helps. This is because it aids one to unburden oneself of loads that weigh heavily upon one's mind and heart. Regular walks each day are very relaxing. A glass of warm milk before retiring helps some to sleep soundly.
Do not fret over things that you have no control over. Practice tolerance. Be moderate. When you feel yourself become impatient you can take a walk, hum a tune, or sing a song. Does the schedule annoy you? Change it. Exercise, go boating, swimming or read a book. Does your head feel as if it is in a vice? Rub the back of your neck, scratch the top of your head or stoke your chin. These are all tension dischargers.
Many things that create tensions have no basis in reality. They do not occur at all. Therefore, train yourself to concentrate more on actualities and less on imaginative roadblocks. Rather than fear failure, give your attention to the job at hand. Think about it. Do it the best you can. Whatever the outcome, do not brood over it. Keep looking ahead.
Oftentimes tensions mount when in the presence of a particular person. Is there something about this person you cannot tolerate? If so, what is it and when does it occur? Try to set matters right before it get out of hand. Often emotionally toned words set pressure soaring.
A nagging wife or a domineering mother-in-law can cause one no end of trouble. However, try talking out your differences. Do not bottle them up. If necessary, confide problems to a person you can trust. It relieves the strain. It helps you to see your troubles in clearer light. It clears your mind for sensible action.
Tension wells up when you feel like lashing out at someone who has provoked you. Hold off the impulse if you can. Wait until tomorrow or the next day or next week, and then see how insignificant the occasion becomes. Meanwhile, do something to get rid of your pent-up energy. Mow the lawn, clean the car, and chop some wood. That is, do something constructive.
If you feel argumentative, change gears. Become more agreeable, less defiant and less obstinate. This will keep pressure down. It is good to yield occasionally. When you do, others will also. Tensions will subside. Do not be overly competitive, but seek cooperation from others. Hence go easy on criticism. Instead search out good points in people and help them develop them.
Do not always tear yourself down. Do your best, but try not to be best in everything or else you will open yourself to failure. Reach out to do work, but this does not mean you presumptuously push yourself forward. Over ambition may be resented and really lead to rejection.
These are very simple suggestions. There is no guarantee that they will completely solve your problems. But, if applied, they are bound to do some good. Sometimes the forces within us are so great that outside help is needed. In that case, do not be ashamed to ask for it. But know that, no matter how great the help, the problem is still yours and you yourself will have to learn to cope with your tensions.