A high score on the tension scale indicates a chronic level of physical and emotional tension. Those who take time to relax and release inner tension do much better physically and emotionally than those who fail to engage in such behavior. Stressmasters have a higher quality of life than those who do not or will not “let go.”

If you scored medium to high on this scale, you probably engage in a behavioral style that is not conducive to effective stress management. If you can find more time to relax, you will counteract the negative effect of stress. Learn how to relax your body and emotions by focusing your attention on more peaceful thoughts.

Being tense and finding little or no time to relax is an important stress indicator. The value you place on taking time for yourself determines whether you are a relaxed person in a tense world.

Tense people often feel incredible levels of guilt about taking it easy and being good to themselves. Prolonged tension can cause muscle aches, pain, and fatigue. Back and headache pain are the most common physical symptoms of too much stress and tension.

Other symptoms include the following:

  • Pain and disease
  • Poor decision making
  • Reduced physical energy
  • Increased errors
  • Burnout
  • Lower quality of work
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Tendency to avoid others

Tense people rarely take lunch breaks, read books, or take a walk. So what can you do to help yourself?

Take time for you!

Ask yourself: “Am I giving too much to others and not enough for myself? Do I need to take time to pamper myself?” If the answers are “yes,” refuse to feel guilty about it and do it!

If you feel guilty when you do something enjoyable for yourself, chances are you will stop doing it. Ultimately, you lose. You may be living your life through other people’s standards and expectations. Take control of your guilt-producing thoughts. Focus on the benefits to you and your family that will occur when you are a more relaxed and energized person.

Go to lunch and don’t rush

Take a long lunch break at least three times a week. Don’t do business during lunch. Read a novel over a cup of tea. Go to a museum. Sit quietly by a stream. Eat slowly. Try a new restaurant. Go out with a good friend and agree not to discuss problems or business.

Walk every day

Walk by yourself or with a friend. Talk about possibilities, not problems.

Exercise more

Join an aerobics class, go to the gym, play tennis, ride a bike, hike on weekends, go to a fitness resort, or jog with friends. Exercise will do more to reduce stress hormones and chemicals in our body than any other activity.

Learn deep relaxation skills

Take a class in yoga, imagery training, progressive relaxation, or autogenics. Practice your relaxation skills every day.

Listen to relaxation tapes

Audiotapes are an excellent way to learn how to let go and relax. Develop the skill of deep relaxation that will cleanse your body of damaging stress hormones and chemicals.

Listen to relaxing music

Any type of music you find enjoyable can help you to let go and relax. New Age music and some classical music are particularly helpful for reducing stress.