Progressive Muscle Relaxation
First, it’s important to understand that I’m not using the word ‘relaxation’ here to mean watching television, gardening, or having a glass or two of your favourite drink…while each of these things might have a place in your life, let’s call them methods of recreation.
Relaxation on the other hand, is the process of reducing and preventing stress and tension in your body and mind. Relaxation is essential to help create and maintain
balance from the normal and sometimes above-normal stress that we are all faced with at times. While stress is important to give us drive and energy to achieve things in life, it can take a toll on physical and mental health… relaxation helps bring about a reduction in stress, restores energy, can assist with chronic illness and generally results in improved self-esteem and health.
There are many forms of relaxation including meditation, mindfulness, yoga, breathing techniques, hypnosis and visualization.
In this blog post, I talk about the relaxation process of Progressive Muscle Relaxation. This is an easy technique to learn and put into practice, and can be done just about anywhere, any time.
What is Progressive Muscle Relaxation? Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR) is a relaxation exercise that combines a
physical form of relaxation with a form of mindfulness.
By encouraging you to focus on the physical tension and relaxation of each muscle group in your body, it teaches you, and your muscles, to let go of tension, stress and anxiety. Focusing your mind on this tension-relaxation process, means that you will no longer be ’thinking’ about, or focusing on problems or issues that worry you.
PMR is a way that you can relax both your mind and your body.
The two step process of tension-relaxation provides you with an immediate feeling of relaxation, but the more you practice this exercise, the more you, and your body, will recognize throughout the day, when you are becoming physically tense.
This recognition will provide you with a cue that you may be becoming increasingly anxious. At that point, by doing a brief form of PMR, you can let go of the tension and prevent the anxiety from building.
Some helpful hints before beginning Progressive Muscle Relaxation
How To Do It
The two-step process: an outline before you begin the Tension – Relaxation Response
The first step is to focus on and tense each muscle group in a specific part of your body. This step is essentially the same regardless of which muscle group you are
targeting. For example, focus on your left hand. Next, take a slow, deep breath, make a fist and squeeze the muscles as hard as you can and hold it for about 7 seconds.
As you’re doing this, really focus your attention on the tension in the muscles. There may be some slight discomfort which is normal (remember, any pain or severe discomfort, reduce the tension, or by-pass that muscle group).
Another normal response of the body, is that when you’re tensing one muscle group (like your fist), other muscles are also likely to tense - such as your biceps or shoulders as you make a fist. It is really important to tense only the specific muscle group we focus on...do what you can to reduce the tension to surrounding muscles.
This step involves quickly relaxing the tensed muscles. After holding the tension for
about 7 seconds, very quickly let all the tightness flow out of the tensed muscles.
Exhale as you do this step.
Feel the muscles become loose and limp, as the tension flows out, and very deliberately focus on and notice the difference between the tension and
relaxation. This is an essential part of PMR - here, you are teaching your body and mind the difference between the tensed and relaxed state of your muscles.
After about 10—15 seconds, move on to the next muscle group as in the scrip below, repeating each tension and relaxation steps. When you have completed all muscle groups, sit quietly for a few minutes to enjoy the deep state of relaxation.
A full script of PMR, with step-by-step instructions is available from inSync for life.
Would you like to know more about this method of Relaxation? Or would you like to learn more about managing your stress, tension or anxiety in life? Contact us on our Contact Page for information about seeing one of our practitioners in person or Skype. If you would like a free Script for PMR, contact us on our Contact Page.