We live in a world that never sleeps. We lead our lives with little rest and little time for ourselves. Vacations and time off are the only times we get to breathe and relax.
Somedays, life feels like a battle that never ends. In between all these, we must give our body, mind, and soul proper rest. There are multiple methods and ways to relax.
Related to this, we are here to discuss all about progressive muscle relaxation, a technique that helps reduce your anxiety, stress, and also relaxes your body muscles.
What is Progressive Muscle Relaxation?
As the name suggests, this method involves the tensing and relaxing of a particular muscle group, as you breathe in and out. You have to go through various steps of this technique in an orderly manner.
This unique relaxation technique was introduced in the 1930s by American Physician Edmund Jacobson. The best part about progressive muscle relaxation techniques is that pretty much anyone can learn and practice it for a healthier body and mind.
Why should you try progressive muscle relaxation?
This one of a kind technique is most commonly used to lower stress and anxiety. It may sound a bit shocking to some, but many individuals suffer from cramps as well when they are stressed out. Now, in such cases, progressive muscle relaxation is known to relieve muscle tension due to stress.
This method offers a range of benefits for you, such as lowering the blood pressure, soothing effect, reducing fatigue, and serves as a remedy for sleep issues as well. So, it can be said that it helps both physiologically and psychologically.
What are progressive muscle relaxation benefits?
- A study reveals that after going through this relaxation technique, the heart rate decreases along with a decrease in total cholesterol, triglycerides. So, if you suffer from an elevated heartbeat condition, you can safely try this technique.
- It is a great way to relieve stress. Your body secretes the hormone, cortisol when in stress, that sometimes leaves you in a fight or flight mode. Some studies show with the regular practice of progressive muscle relaxation, the levels of cortisol in your body decreases. This is a must exercise for those who suffer from chronic stress and social anxiety disorder.
- Do you often suffer from headaches after a stressful day? Try the progressive muscle relaxation technique and see the magic happen. Doctors also recommend some patients to try this technique to keep those annoying headaches away.
- Manage any issue of chronic pain with this technique. You can minimize the symptoms related to chronic pain such as sciatica, muscle pain, painful cramps, cancer-related pain, sports injury pain, etc.
- This technique is known to treat issues of insomnia. Progressive muscle technique truly relaxes your body and mind, which is a must to be able to get a sound sleep.
- A study shows that this technique helps patients with mental illness like schizophrenia. It is a well-practised technique for behavioural change as well.
- Attain overall well-being with this technique.
How to do progressive muscle relaxation technique?
Before you begin this technique, find a corner at your place free from all distractions, where you can practice this technique peacefully. To set the mood, you can also play soothing music. Wear comfortable and loose fit clothes for this. You can either lie down on your back or sit back on a comfortable chair, resting your hands on the arms of the chair.
There are also therapeutic audios available on the internet that will guide you throughout the technique. So, if not music you can play such audio for better results.
Step 1: Tensing your muscles
As you take a deep breath slowly, squeeze the muscle group of your choice as tightly as you can for five to ten seconds. As you squeeze your muscles, focus, and feel the tension in that area.
You may find difficulty practising the tensing of a particular muscle group initially. But, as you continue with the practice, you will be able to master this technique with great precision.
Step 2: Relaxing your muscles
Right after tensing the muscle group, as you breathe out, release the built-up tension in that area. Concentrate on the transition from the state of tension to relaxation. You need not relax the muscles in focus too slowly.
Take a break of only 15 seconds, before you move on to try this progressive muscle relaxation technique on another set of a muscle group.
You can systematically practice this technique starting from your face and ending with your feet. Otherwise, you can practice on the group of muscles that needs your special attention.
Muscles groups to work on with the Progressive Muscle Relaxation technique
Forehead – Raise your eyebrows, wrinkling your forehead for the designated duration, and relax.
Eyes– Shut your eyes as hard as you can and open.
Cheeks– Smile as hard as you can, stressing on the muscles on your cheeks and jaw and relax.
Lips– Pucker your lips and release.
Neck– Lift your shoulders only as high as you can and then relax.
Arms and hands– Make your hands into fists and curl your forearms towards your shoulder like the bodybuilders do to show their biceps. Then return to normal position.
Butt– Tighten the muscles of your butt and then relax.
Legs and feet– Squeeze your thigh muscles and your calf muscles, curling your toes at the same time.
So, you see, the progressive muscle relaxation technique focuses on all the main muscle groups from top to bottom. Keep breathing as you apply tension on your muscles and breathe out as you relax your muscles.
How regularly should you practice this technique?
Since the entire progressive muscle relaxation technique takes about 15 minutes to 20 minutes, you can easily do this every day or at least twice a week.
The Progressive muscle relaxation technique or Jacobson’s relaxation technique is pretty much approved by researchers and doctors as it is indeed effective. It is also known to reduce symptoms of depression as well.
The world is moving at a very accelerated pace, and we have no other option but to run along with it. Anxiety issues and other health issues have become very common. There are several ways to keep ourselves sane and healthy such as yoga, hypnotherapy, aromatherapy, and the list goes on. If you want to try something new and simple, then you can definitely try progressive muscle relaxation and see the positive results yourself.