Life is full of stressful events.

When you encounter a threatening situation, your body reacts with a stress response that helps you avoid or make it through the situation. The stress response initiates a cascade of changes that tenses up your muscles, speeds up breathing and heartbeat, increases blood pressure, and revs up energy production.

This “flight-or-fight” reaction helped our ancestors deal with life or death circumstances, such as escaping from pouncing lions or fighting marauding wolves in the wild.

But in modern society, you can hardly run away (flight) when there is a deadline coming up. In a difficult relationship, you cannot physically beat up (fight) the other party.

When the excessive energy buildup in the body does not get released properly, and especially when it persists and simmers, it can cause harm to your body. You may develop high blood pressure, reduced immunity, heart problems, itchy skin, sleeping irregularities, bowel movement problems, and/or a host of other physical ailments. These are in addition to the mental stress, and they can all contribute to physical and mental aging.

An obvious solution to dealing with stressors is to reduce them or rid yourself of them altogether. But often it is beyond your power to do so. Fortunately, even though you cannot change many external circumstances, you can change the way you handle and manage them.

Not only does stress management keep you healthy, but it also helps when you are ill. Studies have shown its benefits in helping us recover from cancer and heart attacks, as well as improving diabetes, headaches, psoriasis, and many other ailments. In short, controlling stress improves your overall quality of life, whether you are healthy or are physically ill.

It is therefore important to manage your stress, and there are many ways to do so. One of the most effective strategies involves loosening tense muscles to help them (and you!) relax.

Tips for Loosening Tense Muscles

Many patients come to see me with headaches, back pain, stiff necks, or jaw pain. There can be different causes for these maladies, but the most common cause for these seemingly unrelated physical problems is muscle tightness due to stress.

These physical symptoms add another stressor on top of the existing problems. Therefore, loosening up your muscles will help you better manage stress.

A warm bath or shower is a great stress reliever. It’s quite common to emerge from a warm shower feeling comfortable and relaxed. The warm water enhances the circulation to your skin and muscles, helping them relax. For most people, showering several times a day is not practical and may dry the skin too much, but you may be able to use heating pads, applying them to tense muscles.

Drinking plenty of fluids also helps with circulation to the muscles and should not be overlooked.

Massaging the tense muscles also helps. You can learn different techniques from books, videos, or classes. You can also treat yourself to professional massage sessions.

Progressive Relaxation Technique

The progressive relaxation technique involves willing your muscles to relax. It may seem difficult at first, but it actually can be learned and is a highly effective stress reliever.

After you become good at relaxing your whole body, you may want to try to relax just parts of it as circumstances require.

Here’s how it’s done:

...Lie down on a comfortable surface.

...Start by noticing how your feet feel. If they are tense, relax them. You may actually feel that it is most helpful to tense up the muscles on purpose before relaxing them.

...Go up your body relaxing the various parts in a similar fashion… up your calves, your thighs, and hips.

...Continue to feel, and then relax your trunk, fingers, hands, forearms, and arms. Then do the same for your shoulders and neck.

...Finally, feel the tension in your scalp and forehead before relaxing them.

You can start by doing this technique very slowly. After you are good at it, you may be able to relax the whole body in seconds.

You can then use this technique in any position as long as it is comfortable for you. You can also relax certain muscles of your body at will.

Practice makes perfect. It may take some time for you to relax the whole body at the beginning of the practice. Once you are good at it, you may be able to relax your whole body in less than one minute. Even better, in mere seconds!

Keep reading to discover the keys for defusing ticking health bombs that could be lurking in your body. Visit and discover the medical secrets necessary to know so you can live a better, longer, healthier life.

Author's Bio: 

Zen-Jay Chuang, MD, is a primary care physician and Chairman of the Whole Health Alerts advisory board. Visit to find out how Dr. Zen-Jay’s biodynamic, cutting edge approach to ancient and modern medicine can help you achieve the best health of your life.

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