PROGRESSIVE MUSCLE RELAXATION
Progressive Muscle Relaxation teaches you how to relax your muscles through a two-step process.
First, you systematically tense muscle groups in your body, Then you relax the muscle groups.
The progressive muscle relaxation exercise will help you to lower your overall tension and stress levels, and help you relax when you are feeling anxious. It can also help reduce physical problems such as stomachaches and headaches, as well as improve your sleep.
Getting readyFind a quiet, comfortable place to sit, then close your eyes and let your body go loose.
STEP ONE: Tension
The first step is applying muscle tension to a specific part of the body.
This step is mostly the same regardless of which muscle group you are targeting.
First, focus on the target muscle group, for example, your left hand.
Next, take a slow, deep breath and squeeze the muscles as hard as you can for about 5 seconds. Feel the tension in the muscles, which may even cause a bit of discomfort or shake. In this instance, you would be making a tight fist with your left hand. Try to ONLY tense the muscles you are targeting. Isolating muscle groups get more comfortable with practice.
Take care not to hurt yourself while tensing your muscles. You should never feel intense or shooting pain while completing this exercise.
Make the muscle tension deliberate, yet gentle. If you have problems with pulled muscles, broken bones, or any medical issues that would hinder physical activity, consult your doctor first.
STEP TWO: Relaxing the Tense Muscles
This step involves quickly relaxing the tensed muscles.
After about 5 seconds, let all the tightness flow out of the tensed muscles. Exhale as you do this step. You should feel the muscles become loose and limp, as the tension flows out. It is vital to very deliberately focus on and notice the difference between the tension and relaxation. Remain in this relaxed state for about 15 seconds, and then move on to the next muscle group.
Repeat the tension-relaxation steps. After completing all of the muscle groups, take some time to enjoy the deep state of relaxation.
Shannon Shadman, LPC, MSMHC, NCC, M.Ed.