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Mental Health Series:Stress Tension

Were you ever so stressed out you got a headache? How about waking up to jaw pain?

Science likes to refer to this as physco somatic, or the brain causing the muscles to tense up. Your brain has the ability to effect many parts of your body, and even cause an override of other symptoms. Have you ever burned your finger and immediately rubbed your hands together? This does not take away the fact you burned you finger, but rather override the pain stimuli with the one that is focused on rubbing your hands together. Let’s face it, your brain is a pretty powerful tool that will both cause you sanity and may cause some insanity.

In the days of COVID, and the year 2020, everyone is under a large amount of stress. Some of you have lost your jobs, others may have changed their office setting. You may have experienced increased neck tension throughout the last couple months. Stress tends to congregate in the neck region on specific muscle groups.  Now lower those shoulders! Okay let’s keep going. Separating the muscle tension into different groups may allow you to fully understand why your body harnesses negative energy in these particular spots. Stress is a form of energy, just like working out or excitement or sadness. Stress is one form of negative energy that has to be released somewhere. You can choose to release it as tension, anger, relaxation.

Neck Region

Like I said, lower those shoulders! Tension in the neck is focused on the upper trapezius, suboccipital muscles, and masseter. This can result in headaches, neck discomfort and jaw pain. Stress in the neck causes your shoulders to elevate, lean your neck back, and clench your jaw. Sometimes your tension may focus in the little regions of your head, particularly between you eyebrows.
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Breathing Difficulty-Diaphragm 

Tension causes you to breath shallow breaths. With every breath your ribs elevate, and lungs and diaphragm expand. The quicker and concise your breaths are, the more these muscle will become fatigue (like any muscle you workout).

Back pain

Stress causes muscles to contract, causing your lower back to hyperextend initially. Eventually your lower back fatigue and causes the opposite effects. This may result in rounded shoulders, forward head carriage, and an arched back. This further closes off the airway, causing shallow, quick breaths.
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Do this everyday!

When you wake up, take some time to relax and get ready for the day. Before you go to sleep, take time to relax and unwind from a long day.

Follow these steps:

  1. Sit in an area where you will have no distraction
  2. Close your eyes. Focus on your head first. Tighten those muscles around your forehead. Clench that jaw. Now count to 8….and release everything.
  3. Now let us move down to your neck. Shrug your shoulder up towards your ears. Count of 8…and release everything.
  4. Repeat this for the body areas below:
    Chest, Right Arm, Left Arm, Right Hand, Left Hand, Abdomen

End with Dr. Andrew Wells 4-7-9. Repeat 3 times.

  • 4 seconds breath in through your nose
  • 7 seconds hold your breath
  • 9 seconds breath out through your mouth

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