Many people feel stressed before an important speech, presentation, or pitch. This can lead to your body filling with tension and restricting your voice, movements, and ability to think.
But tension isn’t a bad thing.
Tension is actually necessary.
Without tension in our bodies, we would flop hopelessly on the floor.
With too little tension, we can appear as if we don’t care.
Positive tension allows your body to feel balanced, upright, and able to power your voice and movements in a way that boosts your presence and impact.
It’s unnecessary tension that’s the problem.
Unnecessary tension is like a frog in boiling water. You may have heard the old adage: a frog is sitting in a pan of cold water. Though there’s a flame below, the frog doesn’t notice it heating the water until it’s too late. Eventually, the water starts to boil and that frog is in serious trouble.
Tension can work the same way.
You can spend years of your life letting stress settle deep in your muscles and core. Day-to-day tasks like hunching over a computer as you stare at a flickering monitor will do it.
This kind of strain — caused by anxiety, poor posture, or bad work habits — spreads across the body and hinders movement. This is why you need to locate and release unnecessary tension before an important situation if you want to relieve stress, free your movements, and improve your performance.
And although it can be hard to truly notice tension in your day-to-day life, there is an easy way to determine how much tension you’re carrying with you.
ADVICE: TO RELEASE TENSION WITHIN THE BODY, YOU ACTUALLY NEED TO INCREASE IT.
It sounds counterintuitive, but telling yourself to relax isn’t going to do anything.
Try it. Tell your shoulders to relax. Did they move much? Probably not. You aren’t aware of how much tension has built up in your body and therefore it is hard to release it.
In order to help our clients create the right balance of tension, we used to do a long exercise that would take about twenty minutes, carefully working through each part of the body.
Then, a few years ago, we worked with a team of psychiatrists who said they knew of a technique that was clinically proven to reduce stress and make you feel empowered and energized. Their patients would use it to overcome both stress and lethargy. They showed it to me, and I’ve used it with clients ever since.
We call it The Bunny Activity.
The exercise is designed to relieve tension in all major stress points across the body. As an osteopath once told me, the best way to release tension from a muscle is to build up extra tension and then let it all go.
The Bunny lets you do that with the whole body.
Here’s how it works:
- Sit comfortably with your feet flat on the floor.
- Get ready to build up tension in every major muscle group, then release it all at the same time and stand up at the end.
- First, hold your fists in front of you and tense your arm muscles.
- Then, bend your arms and pull the fists in towards your body to tense up your biceps.
- Twist the fists around to face outwards, tensing up your triceps.
- Lift your shoulders up to increase tension in them (by now you should look like a tense bunny in the headlights of an oncoming car!).
- Tense up your stomach, then legs, then feet.
- Tense up your toes.
- Finally scrunch up your face with as much tension as you can.
- Then…release all of the tension as you stand up and breathe out.
By standing suddenly, and letting go of that tension that had taken over your body, you’re activating all major muscle groups. This switch sets you back at an equilibrium — you release all unnecessary tension, but maintain enough muscular stress to stay active.
If you were very relaxed before you started you may even notice additional tension in the muscles, leaving you feeling energized. This equilibrium makes for a strong physical presence and a calmed mind.
It’s a simple routine to do, but it transforms your state.
You can use it anytime you feel stress building up, or your energy levels dropping, as a means to re-activate your muscles in a positive way. Your anxiety will go down, presence will go up, and you’ll feel ready to perform at your best.
To learn more about how we can help you please contact our team.