Loosening Up

A couple of weeks ago, in the post “To Experience”, I reminisced about riding a scary roller coaster. I did not mention in the post that after that ride, my friend Greg later advised me to loosen up. Being uptight and fearful won’t get you through the experience. His advice was a variation on “feel the fear and do it anyway”.

Greg admitted that sometimes at the coaster park he feels uptight about particular rides. When that happens, Greg goes on the scariest coaster in the park. He feels the tension in his neck and back muscles, then, during the first dive of the car, he lets go. I tried his technique on subsequent roller coaster rides, and it sort of worked. At least the day at Cedar Point park didn’t traumatize me; I actually had fun.

“It’s fine to admit being nervous after the event. But if you tell people you’re uptight before the game, it can be like, ‘That guy’s got problems. We can’t trust him.'”–Italian professional footballer and goalkeeper, Gianluigi Buffon

My friend’s technique reminds me of a relaxation technique I enjoy using when I notice when I’m uptight: In sequence, tense up the muscles in your scalp, your face, the neck, shoulders, arms, hands, chest, back, abdomen, buttocks, thighs, calves, and feet. Inhale deeply, hold the breath and the body tension for several seconds. Then slowly exhale while sequentially releasing the tension in the same order the muscles were tensed. Repeat the process once or twice. For variety, reverse the order, by beginning at the feet. (If you tend to get charley horses in your calves or arches of the feet, take care when tensing them.)

This simple exercise feels like an instant trip to the spa. The resulting relaxation is refreshing and calming. Doing this also helps with focus and concentration when you resume your tasks. I feel less crabby afterwards and have prevented budding tension headaches and backaches before they could worsen. When I don’t have access to a massage or back-rub, this technique is a convenient, reasonable substitute. You can do this before making a speech, anticipating a fearful encounter, or while waiting in line for a roller coaster ride.

If you are comfortably able, you can also sing a tune or have a good laugh. It’s amazing how relaxing these can be. It probably has something to do with diaphragm and breath control. Easy breathing reflects relaxation and vice versa.

Some folks have other techniques like yoga, or working out. This is a good time to practice your favorite. After all, letting go is the key to happiness.


The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes author, motivational speaker, and psychotherapist, Richard Carlson. “When you let go of your expectations, when you accept life as it is, you’re free. To hold on is to be serious and uptight. To let go is to lighten up.”

About swabby429

An eclectic guy who likes to observe the world around him and comment about those observations.
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5 Responses to Loosening Up

  1. Jeff Flesch says:

    Excellent, Jay. I’ve been meditating for about 3 years. Very helpful in the tension and letting go area. Have a great Sunday. 🙂

  2. Mediation is a way to live in the moment..thank you.

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