The realities of today's world make most people experience stress, consequently, the body's response to this stress and anxiety is muscle tension which can lead to chronic muscle pain and exhaustion. The solution to the problem of everyday tension — progressive muscle relaxation exercises (PMR). This is a technique of relaxation the muscles used for calming your mind and body after having stress.
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The muscle tension is caused by stress and anxiety which is a natural defense mechanism which assumes preparing for dangerous situations. Even if these situations are not always dangerous, we still respond that way. The excessive muscle tension is a waste of energy which facilitates tiredness and headaches.
What Is Progressive Muscle Relaxation?
Progressive muscle relaxation technique was described by American physician Edmund Jacobson in the 1930s. Dr. Jacobson stated that relaxing the muscles helps likewise relax the mind. The aim of these exercises is to achieve full relaxation of the whole body. The procedure assumes focusing on a muscle group, strain the muscles and then relax them. This process is repeated with the muscles of the whole body in a specific order and at the end of the procedure, all the muscle groups are strained and relaxed.
Anyone who has 10-20 minutes a day can use muscle relaxation technique to feel relaxed instead of anxious. Practicing PMR for some weeks, you will advance in this technique and with time you will learn how to reduce stress thanks to practicing muscle relaxation techniques.
Possible Benefits for Health
If you practice PMR technique every day, you will have plenty of benefits for health, such as:
- decreasing of the overall tension and stress level;
- relief from anxiety ;
- reducing physical problems such as stomachaches and headaches;
- sleep improvement.
Preparing for Relaxation
Devote about 15 minutes for completing the exercises. It’s better to wear loose-fitting comfortable clothes and take off the shoes. Minimize the distraction to your five senses — find a quiet place, turn off the cell phone, use soft lighting. Start finding a comfortable position — you can stand, sit or lie.
5 Steps to Relax the Muscles
An inherent part of PMR training is an appropriate breathing, so to achieve the best result you should follow the instructions. Breath in as you tense the muscles and breath out when you relax.
Take a deep breath, clench a fist. Make sure that the tension is not too strong. Keep the muscle strained for 5-7 seconds. Exhale and release the strain and wait for approximately 10-15 seconds. During this period, focus on the difference between strained and relaxed muscles.
Continuing doing the same exercises, tense and relax the face muscles alternately: wrinkle the forehead, screw up the eyes, frown the nose, clench your jaw and teeth.
Work with the muscles of your torso: lift the shoulders up, toss your head back, then tighten the chest muscles, and then belly.
Tense and relax the arms. Clench fists with both hands, strain your biceps, triceps and forearms. Let the muscles of the whole arm relax and go limp.
The last step is working with the muscles of the legs. Point your toes upwards, simultaneously tighten your thighs and calves. Feel the tension going out from the whole body out through your legs and into the ground.
If you need more detailed instructions, study progressive muscle relaxation script from Baylor University.
This 15-minute guided PMR video can help you to perceive information visually without being distracted by reading.
Remember to practice PMR when you feel both anxious and calm. It will provide more effectiveness in stressful situations. If you are interested in this field and want to achieve total relaxation and concentration, you can master the techniques of meditation.