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Constant tension


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I never relax. Even on days when I don't leave the house, I get keyed up just dealing with the others with whom I live. I've noticed it especially in my shoulders and jaw (I've had problems with bruxism since I was a child). I also hold my abdominal muscles in a state of more or less constant flexion.

I try to relax, and stretch and loosen myself up when I catch myself doing this, but it's been a habit for so long that I seem to do it unconsciously.

Anyone else? If so, what sorts of things do you do to help it? I do regular stretching throughout the day, and I try meditation as well. These things help while I'm doing them, but they seem temporary.

Thanks, as always.

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Oh, yes. I do know this all to well.

 

I tend to do this thing with my muscles (mostly my abdominal) where I flex in & let go. I feel like it somehow stretches my muscles & relieves tension. In actuality, I don't really think it does anything at all. What it feels like (almost) is that it helps for a millisecond. And when I reduce the flex I feel like I need to do it again, but this time I feel like I need it even more. So I continue to do it. Sometimes it is as if I can not stop.

 

Is that the type of thing you are talking about?

 

Honestly, with actually trying to loosen up my first instinct is to stretch my muscles (and i usually always start subconsciously). I can not explain why, but it sometimes makes it worse. The things I try to do though is not really flex, but to step back. I generally feel un relaxed because I constantly feel rushed. And taking time to step back, in a place where there is less noise & people help me gather myself and let myself realize I am not in a hurry.

 

It sounds silly, but medications never helped me shake that feeling. & actually medications (especially benzos) made it worse. It is definitely something I have found is more treatable with relaxation techniques & finding some peace of mind (like the suggestions you are looking for). I have not yet found the perfect balance for this, although I found out that I feel like that less after getting off my benzodiazepine.

 

So I can not really give anything for you, except to say I definitely understand.

Edited by Gibson
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I tense up as a stress response, too. It's like even though I'm out of the situation that caused me to stress out all the time, my body hasn't gotten the message yet, and it still keeps itself on a state of alert. It's really tiring and hard on the body.

 

I was going to suggest massage, too. I don't know about you, but I'm touch shy like crazy, and I'm too broke to afford regular massages, so I use self massaging techniques instead.

Edited by Coffeetime
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I feel this wayy too. I grind my front teeeth together so much. Meds do'nt help. Going to a profffessional massuese did but I couldn't afford to go back.

Ugh, the jaw clenching is the worst. I have TMJ problems now because of this. Heat therapy helps for the jaw aches; I have a tube sock full of rice that I microwave and use as a conforming heating pad. It's beautiful.

I tense up as a stress response, too. It's like even though I'm out of the situation that caused me to stress out all the time, my body hasn't gotten the message yet, and it still keeps itself on a state of alert. It's really tiring and hard on the body.

Yyyyeesssss. This exactly. I'm so used to having to be on guard all the time that tension is status quo for the body.

I don't have your trauma history, but I am also touch shy. Self massage sounds good. I have a couple jaw massages that I use for TMJ, and a couple pressure point massages for headache, so maybe I'll look into that some more.

Thanks for the suggestions and commiseration, everyone. :)

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Learning to relax when you have been under a state of stress for so long that it has become the norm is a process.  A therapist can definitely aid in the process.  Benzos and the like will only help to alleviate temporary stress.  The kind of stress that is acquired over a long time of being in a steady state of nervous tension, requires therapy.  But it is possible to get out of the state. 

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I have problems with this.  I clench my jaw, and my shoulders and neck are constantly knotted up.  I get awful headaches as a result.  I finally talked to my doctor about it, and they referred me to physical therapy.  I will report back if it helps.  Not sure what they will have me do, probably stretches. 

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Learning to relax when you have been under a state of stress for so long that it has become the norm is a process. A therapist can definitely aid in the process. Benzos and the like will only help to alleviate temporary stress. The kind of stress that is acquired over a long time of being in a steady state of nervous tension, requires therapy. But it is possible to get out of the state.

Hi Eldorado. :) Thanks for the encouragement. I feel like talk therapy has already done me a world of good as far as self acceptance and taking a more forgiving view of myself. I think (and hope) that the more comfortable I become, and the less I stress and worry, the better it will become. Social phobia and stress are the root causes of this, I'm quite sure.

I have problems with this. I clench my jaw, and my shoulders and neck are constantly knotted up. I get awful headaches as a result. I finally talked to my doctor about it, and they referred me to physical therapy. I will report back if it helps. Not sure what they will have me do, probably stretches.

Heard and understood about the headaches. Tension type headache is a problem for me, too. Sometimes they're fargin horrible. I don't know how folks with migraines can hack it. I really hope the PT gives you some good tools! That sounds like it might be promising. Edited by Mim
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I do this quite badly too! More from general stress than from people. I'm not very good at dealing with it or expressing it so I don't seem to be able to unclench, even when I'm not stressed at all. Head, jaw, neck, shoulders, all my back, pectorals, diaphragm and hips. My back, shoulders and head hurt the worst though. I'm just one big ball of tension. I have been for years, although meningitis in Dec 2011 didn't help (very painful unless I kept my head completely still and damage to my lower back from several LPs). I try to stretch it out and I've had a few massages but it always comes back. :(  

 

Sparkle, I'd be very interested to know if PT helps. Please let us know!

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count me in.  one thing i've noticed about the abdominal thing is that i'm doing it because i'm not breathing, or i'm breathing really shallow.  the first thing i do when i'm tense (which is all the time, who am i kidding) is hold my breath.  some people hyperventilate during an anxiety attack, i'm the opposite.  so my shoulders are clenched up to my ears, my jaw is locked, and i'll start noticing my solar plexus hurts, then i clue in that i'm not really breathing.

 

i do the stretching thing, the heating pad thing, my husband tries in vain to massage out the bigger "knots", and if it gets too bad i'll take a clonazepam as a muscle relaxant, or a Sulindac (anti-inflammatory).  i have some success with progressive muscle relaxation, if i'm at home and not in the middle of something.  i'm also very afraid to get a real massage, as i've yet to get over the idea of someone touching me so intimately.  but i'm trying to get there.  my body really needs it.

 

finding a way to relax those muscles is so freakin important... i have ignored this for so long that now my problems have become permanent.  all my real teeth are replaced with dentures because i cracked the hell out of them from clenching and grinding.  i have pinched nerves that no massage will fix.  my neck is permanently arthritic.  and on and on.  anybody reading this who is just starting to feel these kinds of physical symptoms, please bug the hell out of your doctor to help alleviate things before they get worse.

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Lysergia, you and I both. My teeth have been destroyed by stress-fueled bruxism. I do the shallow breathing thing, too. I'm a trained singer, so you'd think I knew better, but anxiety knows one worth two of that, unfortunately. I have pain from an old nerve injury in my neck because this effing tension makes it flare up. I wish to hell I'd sought a doc years ago for this. File it under the List of Stuff I Didn't Know Other People Don't Do.

Squish, I've never had meningitis, though a friend did. It was horrible even secondhand. Just watching hurt.

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