This article was prompted by seeing an office worker with her face scrunched with tension. I had previously talked with her about the problems that the overhead fluorescents were causing her (her eyes and face are tense most of the time that she is at work) so she had the maintenance guys shut off the fluorescent above her. However, this week, the light was back on and her face was scrunched up again. She said that some of the people she met with objected to the light being off, that the room was too dark.

I explained that her health was more important than anyone else’s opinion, that the tension in her face affects her in ways she is probably unaware of, and that desk lamps could add light if others object.

We all ignore fixable irritations that cause tensions that we would be better off reducing. Our habitual practices and tensions become written in our faces and bodies, affecting us in large and small ways, such as wrinkles, pain, posture and gait aberrations, circulatory difficulties and many more.
We tolerate many little tensions that cause stress:

The immediate effect of denying our perceptions is to deaden our senses, to train ourselves to not notice reality, and to undermine our ability to recognize truth when we encounter it. Beyond this, there are many unfortunate results from our lack of response to messages from our bodies:

We need to protect ourselves from unrecognized or ignored tensions and the harm that they do. Fortunately, we can train ourselves to recognize harmful stimuli and to take action against them:

Many more potential, easily remediable discomforts than those listed here are possible, but the principle of responding to messages from the body should be clear. Noticing inputs from all your senses can inspire solutions for how to improve comfort and lower stress.

Paying attention to minor discomforts may seem trivial, and in some ways it is. Becoming overly sensitive can be a painful and distressing burden too. As in all things, what is needed is a happy medium – to be sufficiently aware of sensations that cause stress so they can be modified or stopped without letting sensitivities taking over your life.

There can be benefits to toughing out some discomforts in the interest of not becoming too soft and too sensitive to tolerate even the smallest discomfort. But these should be chosen discomforts such as pushing our bodies or minds farther than they want to go in the quest for excellence (not perfection!).

Options for coping with noxious sensations may have trade-offs. For example, using a face mask to avoid inhaling particulates in city air generates heat around the face, means breathing overly warm air, and the strap(s) can be uncomfortable. However, the benefit of not allowing particulate matter to settle in your lungs is large and lasting (dirt and chemical pollutants thrown up by wind or vehicles lodge in the lungs permanently once they are inhaled). You have to decide whether keeping your lungs clean(er) and protecting against future lung disease is worth tolerating the discomfort of a face mask
Becoming more aware of sensations and improving them can raise issues of social pressure. Since others typically ignore small sensations, paying attention to them may cause them to look askance at your solutions. On the other hand, it’s your body, the only one and the only life you get, so you should be free to decide the conditions under which it must operate. Conformity is over-rated anyway J.

I’d like to hear back from you about your discoveries in these areas and am always happy to help figure out solutions as well.


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© Gloria Valoris, 2015

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