Why do I feel tense?

I never get headaches. I knew that last week when I had a headache that lasted 5 days, something was wrong.

Medication didn’t work.

Meditation didn’t work.

I don’t know how to cope with headaches, since I never get them. So, I went down the google rabbit hole. I learned all about tension headaches and where we hold tension in our bodies.

I stumbled upon this article: 9 Types of Muscle Tension Caused by Trapped Emotions

I was shocked and saddened to read this statistic in the article: “According to a study conducted in 2012, 25.3 million Americans (11.2%) suffer from chronic pain every day and 17.6% suffer from severe levels of pain.”

The author of the article shares:

“Your body is the most honest and obvious way to access trapped feelings and even traumatic memories. No matter how much you try to ignore, intellectualize or suppress how you feel, your body knows the truth.”

I know that the body keeps score.

I’m constantly telling people that the tension is not an invitation to be tense, but an invitation to be tenacious.

  • Why do I feel tense?
  • What is my body keep score of currently?
  • How can I be tenacious through the tension?

I’ll ask you the same questions:

  • Why do you feel tense? 
  • What is your body keeping score of today?
  • How can you be tenacious through the tension today?

I won’t pretend to have learned all the answers last week and as helpful as google is, it doesn’t have all of the answers either.

Here’s what helped relieve my pain…

Laying on the floor foam rolling with a friend.

IMG_5540“Being able to feel safe with other people is probably the single most important aspect of mental health; safe connections are fundamental to meaningful and satisfying lives.” Bessel van der Kolk in his book,  The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma

My friend Sandy is a super-shero wife and mom, brilliant engineer, owner and coach of a CrossFit gym, and my friend of 10 years. (And this only scratches the surface.) (Also, this picture is from 2015. We’ve been laying on the floor together for a long time!)

After struggling with the headache for 5 days, she stopped everything and said: “Come on, we’re foam rolling.”  We laid on the floor of the gym and talked me through each part of our bodies and the tension we hold in those parts.

She said, “When you feel a place that is particular tense, hang out there and feel the pressure from the foam roller until the muscle starts to relax”

I’ve been thinking about that a lot over the past few days: hang out in the spot where it feels tense. Press into the tension.

When your body is carrying “trapped feelings and even traumatic events”, it can be tempting to want to quickly move on from that spot. But if we don’t hang out and feel the pressure counteracting the pain, we won’t feel the tension release.

How can we be tenacious in the tension?

Find someone who stops everything to lay on the floor and foam roll with you.

“No doctor can write a prescription for friendship and love”Bessel van der Kolk

A friend’s love is like a foam roller. They hang out in the spot where you feel tense until the pain releases, so that you can be tenacious in the tension. 

  • Who lays on the floor and foam rolls with you?
  • Who hears you, sees you, and holds you until the pain releases?

In the tension together,


One thought on “Why do I feel tense?

  1. Jorge (My Heartbeat, I use to call him) went to be with the Lord almost four and a half years ago. He was my best friend. For over 40 years I needed no one else (or so I thought). A profoundly, immense void consumed me. I felt I had to learn how to do everything on my own, but little did I know that God had bigger plans for my life. We had built a church and ministry family that were not just acquaintances, but were beyond family and friends. They were there to lift me up from my dark place to make baby steps until I was able to walk on my own. I discovered that there was a little of him in everyone of my intimate friends. He was certainly in my closest friends, Sarah and Jonathan. But I began to see me in others. Tenacious can be an adjective that describes me today. God has blessed me with jealousy for his work of love here on this earth. Rolling on the floor with a friend is not only for the young. Being still in one thought with a friend has brought me clarity. I thank you God for the friends and family that have carried me through the toughest time of my life. Sarah and Sandy, thank you for your friendship which will inspire many. I have read Color Me Yellow by my Sarah three times and have shed many tears and praised God for carrying her through all the tension she has had to endure, but Glory to God for his faithfulness. Come to one of the book launches near you, bring a friend or two, buy a book for someone and yourself, and just come to hear from the author (my daughter, our legacy). You all play a roll in this journey.

    Liked by 1 person

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