Tension is nothing more than muscles poised to move. Now, if you're running from a moose stampede, that will be of some (admittedly not much) help. But most of the time, those muscles just ready themselves for nothing--and they do it so often that it seems easier, in the end, simply to stay that way.
Enter chronic tension. Tension is the elbow nudging you in the ribs, the voice whispering, for no reason other than a short attention span and a cruel delight in constant movement, 'hey, hey, can we go now?'
It doesn't matter that you're reading a lovely book in the hour before you have to go to work, that a moment ago you were delightfully content. Tension wants to move, to go. Even to work. And then once you get there, it wants to go home, back to the book, robbing you of any sense of place, of peace, of free time. It's what pulls you by the hair through your Fridays, steals your Sundays, and makes you doubt yourself and how you spend your every waking moment.
But you know, this voice doesn't rule us. How dare it break in and disturb what had been productive, what had been restorative? I've begun to shush it, to drop it, to tell it 'later.' 'Later' seems to work best--it's not a 'no,' which ramps up tension's rebelliousness, nor is it a grudging 'fine,' which only gives it more power. Just a 'later,' and a 'now, shut up' accompanied by my own contrary nature insisting on finding peace in the now and a reason to stay.