We use the same word to describe emotional and physical tension for a reason. They go together. I tend to think of them almost as the same thing.
I haven’t done any scientific studies, but I’ve found any time someone has emotional tension, it will manifest itself physically. Any time you have physical tension, it will constrain you physically. When I see someone who walks and moves stiffly, I find them less free emotionally too, and vice versa. If something stresses you out, you hunch your shoulders, tighten your back, or however you manifest things.
To me this seems obvious, but recently I found a few people who never noticed it. Then I realized I once noticed it for the first time too. Or maybe confirmation bias is just making me confirm something not entirely there. But I found this connection at the root of activities like yoga and meditation.
How to use this to improve your life
The big news is that it works to relax you too. If you are emotionally stressed, slowing down to stretch or exercise can resolve your emotional stress. If you are physically tense, slowing down to let your thoughts unwind will release your physical stress. Often when you feel you can’t stop the source of one type of stress, calming or relaxing its other manifestation will enable you to resolve it.
You can do these things — slowing down your motions or thoughts — any time to relax yourself. And it doesn’t cost anything or take time from your schedule.
Read my weekly newsletter
On initiative, leadership, the environment, and burpees