Unwinding is the active process of releasing held physical tensions and emotional burdens in order to feel lighter, freer, calmer, and peacefully present.

  • Conscious unwinding takes stress relief and unburdening to the next level… moving it from “coping” into actively supporting our thriving long-term.
  • Incorporating unwinding into our lifestyle design means that we’re pre-planning activities that restore balance as an integral part of being vibrantly active and engaged.
  • Exhaustion is less likely even after intense physical and emotional labor when we take powerful pauses to unwind in the midst of such activity.

Wine, Cheese, and Chill

A glass of wine after work. Or two! A little Netflix and chill. Or a binge-watch! And don’t forget the cheese… with chips!

Unwinding is essential for human survival. We unwind when we sleep. Most humans figure out that food can help unwind tension. So can TV. Alcohol. Drugs. More…

What are your typical ways to unwind?

For thriving, it is worth being aware of whether those ways support your well-being long-term or not. To be clear, what we do to cope is not “wrong.” Coping is crucial.

Once we become aware that unwinding is essential, we can look for other choices that feel more inspired and nourishing.

Combined with powerful pauses throughout the day, we are more likely to finish the work day feeling “complete” rather than “depleted.” That leaves us with more energy to savor all aspects of life.

Unwinding Movements

Think small. Slow, delicious movements. Micro-stretches. Melting. Flowing.

Yes, active exercises can be unwinding, especially for emotional stresses.

If you use sweaty activities to unwind, you’re invited to check in with your body an hour later and see if it has tensions it wants to unwind with mindful movements that are guided by deeper listening.

If you tend to unwind by sitting, watching, listening, eating, and drinking… consider spending 3 minutes allowing your body to move – not in “dance” but rather in unpredictable shifts in posture and stretches that are as small as you can imagine.

Why? Because tensions that build up over time tend to impact the fascia (the tissue that holds us together!). Fascia responds to slower movements. Think melting more than stretching. Letting gravity slowly take more of the load.

Unwinding some aspects benefits greatly from skilled presence. The cranio-sacral system can hold deep tensions that a trained bodyworker can help unwind. Emotional traumas and their frozen tensions benefit from EFT Tapping together with a professional, friend, or in a group.

It’s definitely not a weakness to acknowledge that some burdens are easier and safer to set down with help.

And it’s wisdom often acquired through intense pain that our body-mind is designed to move to unwind… and not just at the end of the day when we’re too exhausted to really pay attention.

Take a powerful pause and unwind with slow, delicious movement.

Useful Questions

  • Where am I holding tension in my body? (scan head to toe, inside and out)
  • What emotional heaviness am I feeling? And where is it centered?
  • What are the “default” ways I unwind… and are they supporting my thriving… or just helping me cope?
  • What might I do for three minutes that would be unwinding for me?
  • How might I move my body and breath with this tension to help it unwind a bit more?
  • What needs to be expressed that I’m holding inside? Can I write it out? Speak it alone, to a friend, to God? If not, what fear is keeping me tensely holding onto this feeling?
  • Would supportive bodywork/massage help this unwind in ways I cannot do on my own?


Related Concepts

Activation Energy, Comfort, Grounding, Healing, Lifestyle Design, Powerful Pause, Relief, Resilience, Self-Care, Vitality

Contributors: @Rick

We invite you to share your experiences and wisdom:

  • Life examples where this concept has played a role
  • Other useful questions
  • Links to audios, videos, books, and courses that add to our shared understanding of this concept
  • Memes, quotes, and inspiring images

On today’s Morning Mile there was this moment when my body was all warmed up from the walking, singing, and dancing where it… started to unwind. Movements became fluid… and unpredictable.

FEEL-able. What was “next” could be felt in the moment if I let go of preconceived notions about how I was “supposed” to move.

In less than 3-5 minutes, my heart felt more spacious and my shoulders more fluid.

Unwinding can be something that arises in the midst of other activities, especially ones that get us moving. I’ve seen this during sex, too, where there is a rising of Willingness and Ability to unwind that calls for a literal change in pace, maybe a pause to go deep Together in stillness or weight shifting or undulations that do not actually fit what most “sexual” activity typically is.

Of course, typical ain’t my 'thang, as you might guess. :wink:


Love this skill-building post. Thank you @RickThrivingNow. I did yoga twice recently (which is usually hard for me to get myself to do) and I experienced a feeling of unwinding that brought up some big layers of grief beneath it. My normal sweaty routine doesn’t get at this discomfort in the same way. Just tried to be with the yuck feelings for a few in the hopes that healing would occur. I think it did a little bit.

I also experienced an unwinding doing the Daily Trip on the Calm app today. It was focused on sending loving kindness to another being. I found it easiest to say in my mind… I wish you well, I wish you health, I wish you happiness… to my girlfriend’s rabbit. Something in me relaxed when I pictured the bunny healthy and happy. I was then able to say those words (just a little bit, not without struggle or distraction) to myself. Big unwinding there.


And Unwinding to me is an emotional state that matters. I’ve spent months at times with that as my focused intention. “How might I unwind?” So you could use the approaches we’ll be exploring in Be What Matters for unwinding as well.

Thanks for sharing those specific experiences! Indeed, when i am sweaty-moving the emotional states (and body holding patterns) that are asking to unwind are not really getting deep attention… Slow Delicious Movements as an invitation changed the intensity to the place where what was being held in tissues and thoughts could, indeed, find unwinding…