Progressive muscle relaxation is a technique that can help you to relax and unwind by tensing and releasing the muscles in turn. It can be used for relaxing throughout the day, or for helping your body to relax when you’re trying to sleep. Here’s a quick guide on how to use progressive muscle relaxation effectively.
Before You Begin:
Before you get started, you’ll want to be in a comfortable position. This could mean sitting or lying down, as long as you feel relaxed and comfortable. Make sure you’re in a quiet place and make yourself comfortable. You want to be able to concentrate on the feelings and differences between tight and loose muscles.
1) Breathe Slowly: Start by breathing slowly, feeling yourself relaxing more deeply with each breath.
2) Start At Your Feet: Start by pointing your toes and tensing them, gradually let this tightness go before moving up and doing the same with your calves and muscles behind the shins. You want to tense your muscles as you inhale slowly, and release them as you exhale – this will boost the relaxing effect.
3) Work Your Way Up: Now work your way up throughout the body, tensing your thighs, then relaxing, now onto your stomach, your arms, your hands, back, shoulders, neck and face.
4) Work On Your Face: When you reach your face, bite your teeth together then relax your jaw. Tense all the muscles in your face and then slowly release them.
Now that you’ve worked your way all through the body you should feel a wave of relaxation over you. This is a great way to relax if you find it difficult otherwise. Practice it as often as you need to – you’ll find that it becomes easier every time.
Why Does Progressive Muscle Relaxation Work?
When you use this technique, you’ll be teaching yourself the difference between the feelings of being tense and relaxed. Many of us hold tension in our muscles without even realizing, and practicing this skill can help you to realize when you may not be relaxed. The feelings of physical relaxation of the muscles, in direct contrast to the prior tension, have a knock on effect that leaves you feeling mentally relaxed at the same time.
So, if you suffer from stress, anxiety or difficulty sleeping, try progressive muscle relaxation as a way to relax both the body and the mind. It takes a little practice but can be extremely effective.