The first time I went into a float tank, over five years ago, when I laid down in the epsom salts, I heard about twelve cracks from my upper back. I’d held tension there for years. Even my previously last deep stretch, stretching my back with a 6′ PVC pole, didn’t get that deep, and I’ve never replicated that level of stretching. I hate thinking that was a lifetime of tension built up in my back.
We hoard tension like we’re saving it for harsh winters.
There are ways to relieve tension in the short-term and long-term. For the short-term, the easiest way is to avoid the stress entirely, whether that means hearing someone’s dumb bullshit and ignoring a majority of it, venting to the next sympathetic ear, or writing about it to dig in deeper to figure out, maybe, why it actually held such an impact on you. When I write about a stressful event, it’s like I’ve released it into the world. I might still think about it; its impact is just lessened. I’ve exorcised those privately universal thoughts. The more I express, the less I feel alone, and so by writing I present myself and my thoughts on tensions.
You could play videogames to escape from the tension.
I look at stress as a mental storm, where the waves of life can threaten to capsize you. If you’re in a situation where you can’t throw out a liferaft, find the nearest buoy, or even find a way to swim to shore… if you’re stuck in a bad relationship with a partner or unsympathetic family or if you’re dealing with factors where you should have external support but aren’t, sorry to hear. Throughout all my years of experience living this whole life thing, seeing tragedies and successes, I keep on returning back to the central notion that if you want to make a change, you’ll figure out ways to make it happen. It’s not so much of this sort of universal convenience kind of thing; you just have to become so obsessed with it that you forget about everything else in life until you’ve achieved your goal.
That’s where the long-term ways to relieve tension come into play.
I’ve worked less than my fair share of bad jobs with terrible bosses. With one in particular, where I actually first heard of floating through a sandwich board, rather than wade through one hour of rush hour traffic at the end of my shift, I’d drive to the library, spend two hours almost every night looking over job postings, and kept searching through all the defeat and automated rejections. I didn’t spend every second of those two hours searching. Having that time blocked out for that one task, however, meant I had to get creative when I had already seen and applied for all of the postings I could find. When you’re faced with a serious enough threat, you rise to the challenge, and learn to refine the skills you need to accomplish the task at hand. I had applied to so many jobs that when I finally heard responses, I had two interviews lined up for Friday and Monday, took the Friday path, and rejected the Monday path when they finally called me months later.
I tell you that because I’ve explored “ways out” in the tank.
“Quit Your Job” and “Keep Your Job” explored my thoughts on how I had let stress build up in my imagination for too long. If I had figured out better outlets, if I had more life experiences even, then I might have had the tenacity to hang onto this job. Over three years later, with enough career experiences to fill several novels – I’m participating in NaNoWriMo, and plan to write a novel representing a thirty-day period in the Sammohini Arc of “The Story,” so I wrote this essay as preparation filler – I can now find work that has minimal stress.
I still have to deal with terrible people.
I’m now approaching life through the notion of mind palaces. “Your Mind Palace” is the sum of all of your experiences. Why let evil-doers and fools into your inner sanctum? I had someone today that was vile with me, rude and dismissive, which affected my calm both then and now. I don’t even remember their name. I could look their name up and really let that conversation soak into my memory. I could think about how I can overcome future situations like that, or like I had, I proceeded through the rest of my shift, went into the float tank, and had a great time. My muscles, impaired by the cold and through general stress, relaxed. My mind, tensed through months of thinking of bullshit I don’t care about, relaxed.
You can replicate elements of the experience at home.
I’ll soak in my bathtub as often as I can. I’ll do so after I finish writing this essay, for not nearly long enough, and I always feel better after each bath. There’s something we forget about ourselves frequently: We’re stupid, fragile creatures. We wear suits and skirts and pretend that we’re better than we are, yet, when we admit that we’re just animals that have developed elementary consciousness, we can start to look at the world differently. If dogs and cats can be happy, why can’t we? If my childhood dog, Patrick, could figure out ways to scratch his own back [upper middle], why can’t we figure out ways to scratch our own backs, to relax, and to relieve tension both in the short-term and the long-term to prevent long-term health issues?
I think it’s because professionally, we are a “hurry up and wait” culture.
We celebrate the notion of seeming to do as much as we can, appearing to be as busy as we can, although if we stop and analyze what we’re doing, we’re just wasting time, escaping; being bored.
Figure out how you can relieve that tension rather than forget about it.
|Sources: My fitness experiences.
– This week’s weight: 214.5
– Last week’s weight: 220.5
– Difference: Even forgetting about my weigh-in probably because I’m working on my novel for November and having some light cracker snacks dipped in coffee and I’m still 6 pounds down. Do you wanna know why? I’ve been counting calories since last week.
|Inspirations: My first float tank session [not sponsored] in months, along with wanting to get a bunch of writing queued up so that way all I have to do is weigh myself, update the numbers, write about the differences, and then schedule the essay, rather than sidetracking myself even for 40 minutes writing something unrelated to my task at hand.|
|Related: Past weekly column entries.|
|Photo: Float tank with the perspective of how it might look good as an underlay for the ROW logo and week timestamp.|
|Written On: October 28th, 2019 [40 minutes, from 7:03pm to 7:08pm to get breakfast then from 7:29pm to 8:04pm, WordPress]|
|Last Edited: October 28th, 2019 [First draft; final draft for the Internet]|