Tension neck and shoulders

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Tension and stress can lead to serious physical problems which left untreated could become a more permanent complaint.  Our muscles become tight and heart rate can increase, resulting in sweaty skin and dilated eye pupils Tension shows itself in a range of signs and symptoms, very often around the neck, the upper back and across the muscles of the chest.  Some stressed people may experience chest pain and tension headaches often caused by hyperventilation, over-exertion plus bad posture. Left untreated these conditions can lead to poor performance, both physically and mentally, and may have serious long-term effects on wellbeing.   Natural stressing is an instinctive reaction called FIGHT OR FLIGHT when the body tenses up preparing itself to be ready for instant action to protect itself from danger.

Stress channelled in a positive way is what top athletes and performers use to enhance their performance. With their healthy attitude, stress for them is exciting, life-enhancing and enables them to achieve their goals.  But we ordinary folk need to recognise and avoid stress and keep it under control if we are to enjoy life to the full. Many of us waste time and effort allowing ourselves to become worried and tense which puts our bodies into a state of turmoil. We need to relax and chill out in order to combat stressful situations.

How do we recognise stress, and how can we deal with it?  Some situations, such as a delayed train or plane, or being stuck in a traffic jam are beyond our control, and we are unable to escape from the tension it causes us.   Working long hours and taking work home indicate that we may be working too hard. Cancelling a holiday because of the job are sure signs of a workaholic under stress.  Some of us feel we have too much to do, with unrealistic demands made of us, or with impossible deadlines to meet (sounds like me).   Perhaps we’re unhappy or unfulfilled in work, or we don’t enjoy the company of our workmates.  Personal relationships at work or at home can be difficult to cope with, but simply bottling up grievances will cause us to stress. Whilst these circumstances persist it can be difficult to rid ourselves of pent up emotions.  There may be an increase in blood pressure and stress levels caused by the frequent surges of stress hormones.  Worry can cause stress, but as we know, worry is energy wasted. My mother taught me “Worry is the interest you pay on trouble before it comes”.  Wise words indeed.


Simply counting to 10 before responding to a stressful situation is often all that’s required. Take time out and learn to relax with breathing techniques you can carry out anywhere. Breathe deeply through your nose for a count of 5 into your abdomen, relax your shoulders, expand your chest and remember your posture! Breathe out slowly through your mouth for a count of 5


Get away from it all and clear your head by taking a brisk walk. Sometimes a change of scenery and some fresh air can help you forget the stress that’s been troubling you.  But remember your breathing!


If you have a problem speaking to a friend or a colleague may help put problems into perspective and lighten your load.  If you can, laugh with them,  distract yourself by talking to upbeat people, share a joke with them, or read something  funny that makes you laugh.  Laughing long and loud can produce ‘feel-good’ chemicals in the brain and will help relieve the symptoms of stress.


If you spend long hours stressed and hunched over your computer, consider buying an upright computer desk which I did recently.  It will help improve your posture and encourage you to move about more.  Even a few minutes spent making a cup of tea can help you to take your mind off  your problems. Herbal tea is best, try peppermint tea to calm or chamomile tea to help you relax.

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