Little did I know how stress can mess with the human body. I thought it was just being annoyed at something, but things have evolved into something more. I realized, quite recently, that I have had severe tension in my shoulders. I had an old PDF file stashed in my computer at work that talked about posture. I read it again, by chance, and at once realized what was going on.
First off, I have not been focusing on posture. I sit in front of a computer quite a bit, and have started to slouch. Not only has that been annoying my back some, but it has also evolved into other parts of my life. Due to the slouching, I have constant tension in my shoulders. This also has migrated to jaw tension, and I do believe it lead to some anxiety issues. TMJ (Temporomandibular joint disorders) can cause issues to where even the arms and fingers tingle. That sensation has made me really worried and boom, anxiety issues.
I have been side tracked lately with a move and finding out I will not have a job in a year’s time. All of this, as well as personal issues and thought patterns, evolved into a stress nightmare in my life. Since my first insane anxiety attack, I have been put on medicine to help combat the condition. I realized that I have fewer issues when I am active. So I, for the most part, focused on my cycling. I was pushing harder than I ever had and finding comfort in it. I have been getting a massage once a week and huge knots were appearing in my back. After this last one, I realized something else must be triggering the tension.
I did a small meditation session, which I have not done in ages. I quickly found the tension spots. I was having mid-back pain (soreness), it was radiating from my shoulders and neck. The tension in my shoulders and neck seems to be directly linked with the tension in my jaw. One of my molars has been bugging me, and I realized that my jaw was tight.
This prompted me to start reading about a tight jaw. I was partially surprised to discover that I have a small case of TMJ (or TMD). I say partially because it all made sense, the *click* took place and the light came on in my head. It is like a perfect storm. The tension and stress that was occurring in the beginning of this year compounded into a series of issues that, when all combined, triggered a huge issue.
I started to reflect on my feelings, my actions, my environment, my thought patterns, my faith, and my physical being. I have since renewed my faith and started going to church. I will not preach on here, but, with me, I find a good faith based practice is crucial to mental wellness. You have to feel comfortable in this life and secure in order to release the tension, to release those negative thoughts. My faith has done just that. I head to my church at least twice a week, sometimes three times. I have found friends that truly care and make me feel like I have a second home there. Having people in your life you look up to is always a great thing to have. My pastor is a wonderful man who I aspire to be like. That has brought me to be content in my faith.
My actions have changed because of my faith. I find I focus less on the negative aspects of life. I have changed what I watch on TV, what I expose myself to, and the types of movies I watch. I find I enjoy the good feeling kids movies, I love laughing innocently and not watch anything overly violent. That in turn fuels the change in other parts of my life. Due to a more positive lifestyle, I started feeling better overall. I am happy where I am in life and I tend to worry less. My reduction in worries involves a reduction in anxiety. Now I can feel the attack coming from a mile away and I can take steps to block it and reduce it to a less major event.
I started looking at my environment as well. Things I cannot control are the city and how things are put in place, my workplace setup and people, and all things outside my home. What I can control is in my home. Since moving, we have moved into a house that is much bigger than our previous home. I love this house and it really feels like home to me. Even though it is bigger, it has inspired me to simplify my life. I have since thrown away, sold, and donated quite a few items. My “stuff” has been reduced to make a smaller footprint in the house. This has released some in home tension as well. I feel like I am moving in a direction that will lead to a positive at-home mindset.
I have one room in the house that has a door on it to separate me from everything else. It is my room, my getaway. I have finally discovered what I am going to do to it. I shall paint it a calm sage green, install cork flooring (or laminate wood flooring), and simply it to my “relaxation room”. It shall be a simple room, no clutter, calming scented candles, and some other items. I keep my road bicycle in there, and my wife will keep hers in there as well. That rack will be on the back wall, but that will be the limit of clutter in that room. A room to unplug, to meditate, and to focus inward.
This leads me to the physical portion of my life. I know what my body needs now. Not only do I need the tension releasing forms of a good hard workout, but I need relaxation as well (hence the change in environment). This has lead me back to yoga. I am a cyclist by default. I love riding my bike. If I could, I would sell my car and only have a bicycle for transportation. I truly love it that much. I also find that I am more relaxed when I arrive at my destination, albeit more sweaty. The tension that remained in my neck and shoulders was apparent. I found that I needed to pursue other forms of physical exertion; I need to pursue yoga once again.
I have found that a simple life leads to simple happiness. A less cluttered life leads to a less cluttered mind. Things are always one in the same. People who tend to take on too much work at work, also tend to take on too much at home. There is a certain peace with being content with what you have, to not desire anything more. I have discovered that I am my happiest when I am not stressed, when I am not worrying, and when I am just enjoying myself in that moment. By purging the tension that is weighing me down, that would double my happiness and help me find true peace. I believe yoga will be the key for that.
I still plan on working out by riding my bicycle. I also still plan on commuting by bicycle whenever I can on my days off work. However, I believe yoga will be that extra element that is required in order to keep the tension in my muscles, and jaw, from limiting me. If I can tame the stress side of my life, I will truly be free and happy. All things have come together to lead me to this point, I just need to take that step and apply it to my life. I am a happy person, my next focus is to melt the tension away. Then I will be happy, tension free, and have the knowledge, and ability, to keep stress and anxiety out of my life permanently.
Sometimes we must evolve to adapt ourselves to the ever-changing world. For me, this means adopting a new (or old, depending on your point of view) activity to cope with this crazy world. I have done yoga in the past, so I know it works. Now I am at a point in my life where I need that release, that ability to stretch out and relax away the tension. Cycling is a great world that I do not plan to leave. I am just at a point where I cannot release tension like I used to. I must adapt. This will be a fun step to take. Maybe some of you will also give it a try.