The Second Defense for Managing Stress

The second defense to managing stress is your musculature. Assuming you're a pro at abdominal breathing, (the first defense to managing stress) your next goal is to next become aware of how your muscles respond to the effects of stress.

Whenever, your unconscious mind perceives a threatening situation it prepares you to fight or run. Now for the irony: It really doesn't have to be a life-threatening situation, but instead whenever your ego, family, financial, or social status is threatened, your body prepares to fight or run. Example, you are at a party and the subject is automobiles. You own a Chevrolet and like it very much, but someone makes a comment about Fords being far superior to Chevys and you either defend your choice of auto with your own opinion or you say little or nothing.

What just happened? Your ego was threatened. If you didn't own a Chevy it would have been a non-event. But since you own a Chevy, we'd find that your breathing became shallower, muscles tightened in your jaw and or forehead, sweat gland activity increased... This means your body was partially prepared to fight or run from the situation. Most likely you wouldn't be aware of these changes, however, if we attached biofeedback instruments we could easily quantify the changes (the indices of stress).

But neither fighting nor running is an appropriate reaction to this kind of stress, but none the less you're body is activated to do so. Typical muscular reactions are as basic as those learned during childhood with bracing of the shoulders, clenching the jaw, gritting teeth... They are still with you today.

Every day the effects of stress bring new challenges to our egos. In time these reactions often become magnified and often times becomes the norm resulting in headache, neckache, backache, or TMJ.

Awareness is the first step to change, i.e. awareness that you have reacted to stress. Next is to engage the first defense against stress by consciously shifting to abdominal breathing and secondly to release muscle tension throughout your body.

However, it's often difficult to tell the difference between relaxed vs. tense muscles. In fact the purpose of using biofeedback instruments is to quantify the difference between a tense and relaxed muscle. And part of the normal training is to use a conditioning muscular awareness exercise.

Practice the following once each day:

a. Slowly tense a particular group of muscles keeping the rest of your body relaxed.

b. Cause it to become tense and hold that tension for a few seconds.

c. Slowly let the tension go as you breathe deeply.

d. Remind yourself that you prefer the relaxed feeling over the tense feeling.
A muscle sequence would go like this:

• Make a fist with your right hand.

• Then a fist with your left hand.

• Push you right hand into the arm of the chair to tense you forearm and upper arm.

• Repeat for the left arm.

• Lift your shoulders high to tense them leaving your arms just hanging loose.

• Push you head into the back of a chair to tense the neck.

• Scrunch your facial muscles.

• Tense your forehead.

• Arch your back.

• Take a Deep Breadth and hold it to tense your chest. • Push out with your abdomen.
• Tense your buttocks.

• Tense your right and then left leg.

• Tense your right and then left foot.

This is a general relaxation that will take approximately twenty minutes. If for some reason you can not tell the difference in feeling between muscles that you tighten and the same muscles when you relax them, the next step would be to seek professional biofeedback training.

Learning to manage stress involves some practice sessions. Specific stress management cd programs are available to handle general muscle tension, neck and shoulder tension, stuttering/lazy tongue, abdominal breathing, childbirth conditioning, painless dentistry…Performing these exercises produces real results in a short period of time.


Richard Kuhns B.S.Ch.E NGH certified, is a prominent figure in the field of stress management and personal change. He is the creative force behind the best selling stress management hypnosis cds and a specialist with anxiety attacks. He makes it easy to program your unborn baby, infant or toddler with birth affirmations. Learn the 3 essential keys to connecting with Source. A free three part mini course to make your own birth affirmations cd.

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