Take a moment to notice how you’re holding your body. Is your jaw clenched? Are your shoulders raised? Are you slouched over your screen? Are your thoughts already skipping ahead to the next item on your to-do list or an impending deadline?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, chances are you may be experiencing some tension. And, if so, it isn’t your fault. These days, it’s too easy to get caught up in external stressors and expectations of daily life in our fast-paced culture.
But, these stressors have the potential to not only drain our mental energy but also take a toll on our bodies.
If tension in your jaw, shoulders, neck, back, or anywhere in your body is causing discomfort, you may be wondering: why am I so tense all the time? And an even more important question is, how can I get rid of it?
Take a deep breath, sit up a little straighter, roll out your shoulder and your neck, take a few seconds to look away from the screen and rest your eyes, and then come on back to learn about what may be causing you to tense up and what strategies you can use address the root of your tension and ease discomfort with The Brothers Apothecary.
What’s Making Me So Tense?
To best address any tension you’re experiencing, we first have to understand better what is causing you to feel tense. And for many of us, there are a few main culprits of body tension.
Overworking: Does It Make You Tense Up?
Modern western culture emphasizes productivity and results, making it easy to feel that there is always more work to be done or that we are never enough.
But, resting is not only beneficial for our physical and mental health — it’s necessary. Too much external or internal pressure on our productivity can cause feelings of nervousness, stress, and self-judgment, all of which can impact our bodies.
Overworking can cause chronic stress when our bodies over-produce cortisol for long periods. Cortisol is the stress hormone produced in the adrenal gland that can alert the body to dangers and shift us into fight-or-flight mode to help us respond to an immediate threat.
When high levels of cortisol are released, our adrenaline kicks in our other biological functions are given less attention as our energy focuses on responding to the threat at hand.
Experiencing chronic stress can mean that important biological functions and systems — including our immune system, muscle recovery processes, and cognitive function — are affected as they don’t have the energy and attention they need to thrive. Chronic stress can result in a wide range of health conditions.
Sacrificing sleep to get more work done and experiencing long periods of stress caused by overworking, pushing our limits too hard, or holding ourselves to unreasonably high standards can disrupt sleep quality and weaken the immune system.
This can cause a vicious cycle of stress and discomfort in which overworking ourselves causes increased cortisol production and tension; the tension causes poorer sleep quality that further dampers the body’s ability to balance out hormone levels and engage in muscle recovery; then work becomes even more stressful as fatigue can increase tension and reduce our ability to focus.
Yikes. We’re getting stressed out just thinking about this. But, the good news is that there are ways to counter feelings of stress and ease the subsequent tension.
While setting attainable goals for yourself can be great motivation, remember that you are much more than what you produce and deserve rest and relaxation. Take a deep breath, shake out your limbs, and try not to feel guilty for slowing down, stepping away, and setting aside time to relax and tend to yourself.
We’ll cover more strategies to address stress and promote full-body relaxation below.
Can Sitting in the Wrong Chair Make You Tense?
Whether you have a desk job or engage in hobbies that lead to long hours spent at the computer, your chair may be to blame for some of your tension.
Muscle tension can occur when your muscles stay contracted for long periods. Poor posture, too many hours staying in the same position, or repetitive motions stress the spine and restrict blood flow to the muscles, leading to muscle tightness and physical discomfort.
A comfortable and ergonomic desk chair that is well-fit for your body can help promote proper posture and decrease muscle tension.
If you’re in the market for a new desk chair, look for one with ample padding, a wide backrest, and lumbar support that fits the curve of your lower spine. These features will help keep your spine in alignment and limit the urge to slouch, which can stress your muscles.
An adjustable chair can also help encourage the ideal position for sitting. It is best to have your spine extended, your back against the backrest, your feet flat on the floor, your thighs parallel to the ground, and your arms even with the height of your desk. Your elbows should be at a comfortable 90-degree angle, and your gaze to be level with your computer screen.
An adjustable laptop stand, a makeshift footrest, or an attachable lumbar pillow are also affordable alternatives to buying a new chair.
And, regardless of your chair, make sure you take plenty of breaks to stand and stretch your muscles throughout the day. Even a few minutes of gentle stretches or taking a short walk can help get your blood flowing.
So go ahead, maybe take a few minutes to walk to the kitchen and brew yourself a cup of stress-busting tea as you give your muscles a chance to decompress.
Can Mental Stress Make Your Body Tense?
We’ve talked about stress from overworking, but other forms of mental stress can also cause feelings of tension.
If you find your mind racing, feel nervous, or are experiencing negative thoughts throughout the day, the mental stress can also put your body into overdrive.
Your nervous system is simply trying to protect you from perceived threats, but over time a constant state of nerve activation from high cortisol production can lead to decreased blood flow and cause your muscles to lock up. You may feel the unpleasant effects of mental stress in your shoulders, back, jaw, neck, head, or legs.
Finding ways to address the root of mental stress can help reduce the physical feelings of discomfort we feel throughout the body.
How To Deal With Tension
No matter what is causing feelings of tension, you can take steps to soothe your mind and your strained muscles.
Try CBD for Relaxation
CBD can serve as the perfect companion in soothing feelings of stress.
CBD works within the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS) to help support the body’s response to stressors and maintain internal balance.
For instance, the ECS may trigger the production of the calming endocannabinoid anandamide to combat high-stress levels. When endocannabinoids bind with cannabinoid receptors found within the brain and on the surface of cells throughout the nervous system, they can help calm the mood, maintain healthy circulation, support a good night’s sleep, and ease feelings of tension and discomfort.
As a phytocannabinoid similar to our naturally produced endocannabinoids, CBD can work with the ECS to support the soothing effects of our endocannabinoids and encourage homeostasis.
CBD can help support feelings of relaxation and ease feelings of tension as it partners with our endocannabinoids at work throughout the body.
For a little tension-combating TLC, try our Relax Smoking Blend to calm the mind at bedtime, our Pain Away CBD Roller to soothe localized tension, or our soothing chamomile and lavender-infused Slumbering CBD Bath Soak that will have you oohing and ahhing your way into a state of full-body relaxation in no time.
Sip a Calming Cup of Tea for Stress
There is nothing quite like a cozy mug of herbal tea at the end of a long day.
Herbal tea blends combine beneficial botanicals capable of introducing polyphenols, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidant-rich nutrients that can help maintain healthy hormone production, support feel-good neurotransmitter activity, and support the body’s natural defenses against oxidative stress.
You can enjoy caffeine-free herbal teas made with calming herbs like mint, lavender, chamomile, or ginger night or day as the perfect soothing companion to nerve-racking thoughts, muscle tension, stress-induced stomach knots, or an overactive mind keeping us from getting enough sleep.
You can add even more wellness benefits and flavor to your favorite calming tea with a dollop, or two of organic Lavender Infused CBD Honey provides all of the wellness benefits honey already has to offer. The calming CBD is an added perk to this naturally sweet treat!
And for an even more relaxing experience, try setting aside your screen as you sip and practice gentle mindfulness techniques, such as deep breathing or mindful listening, as the tea gets to work, melting away your tension from the inside out.
Do Massages Help With Muscle Tension?
Massages are another trusted tool to help soothe muscle tension.
Massages can help support a calm mood through the body’s parasympathetic nervous system (PSNS), which is a system of nerves that helps the body relax, especially after undergoing the fight-or-flight response.
While a full-fledged massage can help support the PSNS and target tension in specific muscles throughout the body, studies have found that even gentle massages can help activate the PSNS, giving your body a chance to destress.
Try gently tapping your hands up and down your legs, running your fingernails lightly along your arms, or gently rolling and massaging your shoulders to soothe feelings of tension quickly.
Can Exercise Make You Less Tense?
Moving your body is a great way to ease stress and tension. Aerobic exercises such as brisk walking, running, dancing, or swimming can help soothe feelings of stress by elevating your heart rate and releasing feel-good endorphins into the brain.
Gentler forms of physical activity such as light yoga, walking, or stretching can also serve as a great way to unlock and strengthen your muscles. These are perfect activities to get you out of your chair and shift your brain away from stressful thoughts during long work days.
Of course, be cautious of overworking your muscles, leading to further tension. Make sure you stretch, take rest days, and go easy on yourself as you give your muscles the time they need to recover.
Incorporating CBD into your muscle recovery process may also help support a good night’s sleep, and help to relieve the temporary muscle soreness caused by your workout.
Ease the Tension With CBD Tea
CBD tea pairs calming phytocannabinoids with botanicals to help soothe feelings of tension and stress.
Give it some time, and you’ll find yourself soothed from feelings of tension and stress. Think of it as soothing two birds with one delightful cup of tea.
There are steps you can take to keep stress from controlling your life. Permit yourself to slow down. Practice mindfulness and be gentle with yourself. Take time to stretch and decompress throughout the workday, and ensure your workspace encourages good posture.
Move your body in ways that feel good. Incorporate soothing CBD tea into your routine. These strategies can help soothe feelings of stress, support a good night’s sleep, and ease feelings of tension wherever it lives within your body.
Here at The Brothers Apothecary, we have a wide range of CBD and botanical-infused products that can easily be incorporated into your daily routine, helping to soothe stress and soothe tension at the source.