Are you genuinely releasing stress or just freezing it for another day? The difference between Decompression & Desensitizing

March 4, 2019


“How do you like to relax?” I asked my coaching client…

“I just like to relax, veg out, watch whatever I want on TV” was the first part of her answer.

Absolutely, I can relate.
If there’s something witchy, sci-fi, dramatic or Jamie-Frazier-like on TV, I’ll be there.

But there’s a difference between delighting in the spoils of your TV.
And watching it to tune out.

We live in busy, stressful times. One Spanish study showed the average mobile phone user receives 63.5 notifications, on average, per day.

Our nervous system is processing huge amounts of data every single minute.

And for the sensitive soul, the embodied woman who’s cultivating more presence & depth in her body, we are perhaps even more aware of the sensory overload than most.

So when it comes time to slow down, it’s not surprising that we might sit down in front of the TV (or a similar device) to “veg out”, as my client put it.

But does this really help our nervous system to decompress?

Or are we just desensitizing ourselves & numbing out?


In the world of feminine embodiment decompression is the art of actively releasing tension from your body (& nervous system) so that you can relax.

This is very different to desensitizing which says: “I feel stress/overwhelm/overstimulated from a busy day” and
“I don’t want to feel this way… So I’ll avoid it by taking awareness out of my body, de-sensitizing/numbing my body & “relaxing” by dissociating.”

>>> Big difference. HUGE DIFFERENCE

Decompression takes our stress & chooses to:

  • Acknowledge it
  • Embrace it
  • Feel it
  • Express it

And in this way completes it.

By decompressing, we release the day-to-day-built-up-tension in our body & return to a genuine baseline.

Over days, weeks, years & lifetimes if we choose to desensitize our stress (instead of decompressing & completing it) we’ll build up huge glaciers of frozen tension within our nervous system.

The long term effect of this tension equates to internal oceans of unaddressed & incomplete stress blocking the flow of our body.

For many women this frozen tension builds to such a point that we begin to:

  • Lose a sense of connection with our essential self
  • Lose contact with truth (which makes it easier to tell white lies &half truths)
  • Lose connection with our innate gifts – like confidence & power
  • Feel numb
  • Feel disconnected from our body
  • Feel disconnected from our sensuality

So, are you decompressing at the end of your day, or are you desensitizing?

You’ll be able to decide by asking yourself this question:
> Is your awareness in your body?
> Or outside your body?

Decompression is any action that keeps your awareness in your body, unwinding the tension of the day.

It could look like:

  • Taking 5minutes just to sit, feel & notice what you’re feeling
  • Putting on some music & moving your body
  • Taking a bath or shower
  • Exercising in a way that allows you to match the rhythm of how you’re feeling
  • Embodied movement practice like this one
  • Slowing down with a glass of wine

Desensitizing is any action that overlays your baseline stimulation/stress with more stimulation/distraction.

It could look like:

  • Watching TV
  • Getting lost in your current book
  • Getting onto the next ‘thing to do’ without pausing for a break
  • “Veging out”
  • Stuffing your stress down with stimulants such as sugar or wine

You’ll notice some of the examples given are actually quite similar.

This is because it’s not so much the ACTION you take, as the attitude behind it that determines if you’re acknowledging & decompressing OR avoiding & desensitizing.

Remember, you’ll be able to decide by asking yourself this question:
Is your awareness in your body? Or outside your body?

Know someone who’s challenged by stress? Make sure you send them this post & help a friend out. Who knows, perhaps you can go & decompress together…

Would love to hear your favorite actions/experiences for decompression. Let me know in the comments below – I’d love some fresh inspiration!!

2 Comments on “Are you genuinely releasing stress or just freezing it for another day? The difference between Decompression & Desensitizing”

  1. You gave me so much insight tonight. I don’t decompress. I am super stressed out and feeling broken

    • Marcelinea it’s so incredibly normal to be in that decompression loop, especially when our stress levels keep building & stress feels so UNCOMFORTABLE in the body. Hoping the insight you’ve gained tonight helps you. Blessings Jenna

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