I understood that there are a few muscles in the body that get tensed up when we are under psychological stress. I am curious and confused why would certain muscles tense up. Why does my body react to stress by making them tense? What advantage does the body assume in doing that, even if the threat is purely psychological and not physical?

Also, is there anyway to convince ourselves to relax our muscles when we are just psychologically stressed and there's no physical threat at all? Can this brain wiring be altered, or I would say, become more refined or accurate?

1 Answer 1


This is part of the flight or fight response which is largely involuntary. Various muscles contract involuntarily including anal sphincters ( you don't want your bowels opening in a fight or flight ), and the muscles around your eyes and neck activate within a couple of seconds.

Can you change an involuntary response? With difficulty, and a lot of training.




  • Okay, so do all muscles contract? If not, what's the body's program's logic of contracting specific muscles like lets say the temporalis muscle? What's the apparent advantage with contracting that muscle? I can understand how contracting eye and neck muscles would be important.. Apr 2, 2018 at 5:18
  • How about a punch to your face in an uncontracted state? Protection of vital elements would seem very important,and the parietal bone is the thinnest in the skull. Apr 2, 2018 at 5:29
  • The body doesn't have logic, we have to back track to deduce what might have an evolutionary benefit. Apr 2, 2018 at 5:32
  • evolutionary benefit = body's logic, is what i meant... Apr 2, 2018 at 5:43
  • It might also be facial posturing as well. Apr 2, 2018 at 5:46

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