How to Release Tension, Stress, and Pain

How to Release Tension, Stress, and Pain

Are tension, discomfort, or chronic pain a “normal,” constant part of your life? 

Most people would be surprised to hear, that’s not something you should accept as normal 😉 and you don’t have to live with it.

The great news is, you can use these tips and proven methods to release tension, de-stress, and feel better. All of us have the ability to increase our self awareness and develop the skill of choosing how we want to react or respond to stressors. We’ll show you how!

Before we begin, try this:

  1. Take a deep breath
  2. Do a quick body scan. Check your posture.
  3. Take note of how you feel.

Are your shoulders stiff or hunched? Is your jaw clenched? Is your neck leaning forward? Are your eyebrows and forehead tense? Does your back feel tight, rigid, or sore? Is your breathing shallow or restricted?

If we just made you aware of your “tension spots” - you’re welcome! These “check engine lights” are telling you where your body is holding tension and what trigger points you’re most in need of releasing.

Of course, you’re not alone! For millions of people, tension and pain are a constant in their lives. Our modern lifestyles keep us hunched over screens, desks, and devices. We’re more disconnected than ever from ourselves and how our body is reacting to our daily activities. Stress and anxiety have become a normalized part of our society, as everyone seems to perpetuate this nonstop pace our busy lives demand.

 

How Could We Not Be Stressed & Tense?

It’s important to realize that stress is a reaction. Whether the stressor is a real threat or a perceived concern, our body’s default reaction puts all our systems and functions on high alert and deploys our “fight, flight, or freeze” response.

stressed man thinking stressful thoughts

Chronic stress has been called “the silent killer.” When it’s a constant in our lives, it weakens us, depletes our mental and physical energy, compromises our immune system, throws our hormones and mood out of balance, makes us age faster, and contributes to deterioration and disease.

Our body stores tension and trauma in the form of stagnant energy or qi (pronounced “chi”). In ancient eastern Asian medicine, when your physical, mental, or emotional qi (energy) become sluggish, it causes the body to become congested, store toxins, create inflammation, and be thrown out of balance (homeostasis). If left untreated, it can wreak havoc on our physical and mental wellbeing and lead to serious, long-term consequences.

Our goal is to help you find the tools that can help you connect with yourself, release the inevitable tension we accumulate from our daily lives, and find ways to stay in control of your reactions to stress so you can enjoy a happier, healthier, more vibrant life.


Stressed Mind = Stressed Body

Everything - including our body, mind, and spirit - is made of energy. Energy is always in motion and must be able to flow and stay vital and clear. This is e-motion.

energy in motion

Our connective tissues, muscles, and joints are also made of energy. Unresolved stress and trauma can manifest as “stuck energy”, or blockages, tension, rigidity, and pain. If we don’t release it, tension can literally become trapped in our tissues, organs, joints, nervous system, blood vessels, and even our brain. When you start paying attention to where you feel tension in your body, it can be an indicator of what’s causing the stress and how your body is responding to it. 

Spend some time evaluating your daily habits, posture, internal dialogue, and mindset. Connect with your inner awareness and your body’s ability to auto-correct and regain homeostasis.


How To Release Stress & Tension 

1. Identify Physical Tension

The first step in releasing tension is to identify where your body is holding it. Once you increase this self awareness, you’ll notice patterns or clues in the areas you feel tension. 

Take a look at this chart and check the boxes for the areas where you often feel tension or pain.

Where do you feel tension? Checklist of areas in the body where you're likely to feel tension

2. Identify the Triggers

Can you think of some recurring activities or habits that may be the cause of your tension?

a woman sitting at an office desk, feeling lifestyle tension

If you sit at a desk all day, we’ll bet your traps are stiff, your shoulders are rounded, your neck is forward, your eyebrows and forehead are tense, and your low back and hips are tight.

If you stand all day or do physical labor, your back, hamstrings, knees, calves and feet are likely tense and sore.

If you stare at screens all day, you may get tension headaches.

If you have a baby or small child, you probably have neck and back pain, and possibly also hip pain and imbalances.

Do you get the picture? Your tension and pain are clues. Pay attention to them and they can help you find the root cause.

 

3. Relax

Breathe in slowly through your nose, filling up your lungs. Hold your breath at the top for a few seconds, then slowly breathe out slowly as you drop your shoulders, pull your head back, and relax your facial expression. Close your eyes for a moment (if it’s safe to do so), relax, clear your mind, and allow your body to decompress and elongate.

a man breathing deeply and smiling

Bonus tip: think of the things you’re most grateful for, and spend some time feeling those emotions of gratitude. Smile and give thanks. 

Experiencing gratitude is a simple technique to raise your vibration and help your body and mind connect with your higher consciousness. You’ll be surprised how weightless and revitalized you’ll feel!


Practice this simple exercise throughout the day - especially when you feel stressed or overwhelmed.


4. Stretch It Out

When we’re stressed, our muscles and connective tissues get tense and “wound up.” This causes compression and pressure while “winding” or hunching us into a bunched up state.

Hold your right arm out in front of you and bring it across your chest. Hold your right elbow with your left hand, bring it closer to your chest, and breathe slowly into the stretch. You may want to wiggle and move around as you allow your body to create space in your shoulder blades and traps. Try rotating your neck up and down, and side to side.

A woman sit-in at a desk stretching her upper body

Now, stretch your right arm up above your head and slowly bend your upper body to the left. You can use your left hand to grab your right hand or elbow and ease into a deeper side stretch. Breath and relax into the stretch, allowing your upper body to bend, lengthen, and open. 

A woman standing up doing a side stretch with her arms above her head

Repeat on the other side.

Use this simple stretching technique - and any others you enjoy - throughout the day to unwind your tense myofascial tissues and improve your circulation, range of motion, and pain management.

 

5. Massage Out The Tension & Release Pain

Nothing beats a relaxing myofascial massage to release tension in your body and mind! A skilled manual therapist will be able to identify the tension zones and trigger points and release them. 

But, what if you don’t have time to see a massage therapist and you need relief NOW?!

The KOA Massage Tools are the best self-use myofascial release tools. Their patented design mimics a therapist’s hands, fingers, knuckles, and elbows and allows you to treat every area of your body to anytime, anywhere relief.

They’re available in 3 sizes - each with unique features that allow you to release, decompress, and loosen tension and pain wherever you need it.

KOA Massage tools best myofascial release tools self massage tools for fascia

You’ll feel a difference with even just a few minutes of use. With consistent use, you can expect to feel less tension, discomfort, restriction, and pain. You’ll also notice better blood flow, muscle performance and recovery, less puffiness and inflammation, and more flexibility and vitality. 

 

6. Soak In Nourishment

Hot baths have been a popular wellness method since ancient times. They help release tension, ease muscle soreness, and relax the body and mind.

If you’re not already a fan of epsom salt baths, we recommend picking up some epsom salt at your local store and enjoying a 20-30 minute soak. The natural magnesium and sulfate minerals in epsom salt help destress and detoxify the body, move out lactic acid and inflammation, improve myofascial tissue and nerve function, and reduce muscle spasms and pain. It can even help you get a better night’s sleep!

a woman relaxing in an epsom salt bath to release tension

If you don’t have access to a bath, you can also enjoy the benefits of heat therapy by relaxing in a hot shower, sauna or steam room, or using hot packs.

Be sure to drink extra water and stay hydrated!


In Summary:

  • Unresolved or chronic stress causes the body to hold on to tension and inflammation, which causes restriction and discomfort, which can lead to illness.
  • Stress is a reaction. By increasing your self awareness and connecting with your body and mind, you can learn to control your reactions.
  • There are easy, effective ways to release tension and pain. Some proven techniques include breathing exercises, meditation, stretching, myofascial massage and release, and heat therapy.
  • It’s important to take time on a regular basis to check in with your body and how it’s feeling and address any stress and tension you’re holding onto. Our daily lives place high demand on our body and mind. You owe it to yourself to mobilize your energy and release what isn’t serving you.