Relaxation Techniques – Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR)
Welcome back to our blog series exploring relaxation techniques that can be used to ease the stress and anxieties of everyday life. If you haven’t already, check out our first blog on box breathing to find out a little more!
For our second instalment of the series, I’m going to introduce you to a relaxation technique called Progressive Muscle Relaxation – also known as PMR. Have you ever noticed your body tense up when feeling stressed? Maybe you’ve found your shoulders suddenly up next to your ears or your jaw clenched tighter than Kiera Knightley’s on the red carpet. If so…this strategy is for you.
Muscle tension is associated with stress and anxiety. A lot of the time we don’t even notice we’re doing it – it’s an automatic response that can result in backache and tension headaches. In PMR, you therefore tense and relax muscle groups. There are two benefits to this. First, it should leave you feeling relaxed and tension-free so it can be a good one to do before sleep. Consistency is key for the second benefit, only through practice will you become more aware of tense muscles and how you can relax them, training your body to respond differently to stress.
How to use Progressive Muscle Relaxation – PMR:
- Ensure you are sat/led comfortably in an environment where you can relax. Starting off with some box breathing can be good to help get in the zone.
- Tense each of the muscle groups below for 5 seconds, one by one, moving from head-toe or toe-head.
- After 5 seconds of tension, relax the muscle group and keep it relaxed for 10 seconds before moving on to the next.
- Forehead: Squeeze muscles in your forehead – try raising your eyebrows as high as they will go.
- Eyes/cheeks: Squeeze your eyes tight shut.
- Mouth/jaw: Tense muscles in your jaw – try opening your mouth as wide as you can.
- Neck: (Carefully) elongate your neck up as though you are looking at the ceiling.
- Shoulders: Tense shoulder muscles as you bring them up towards your ears.
- Shoulder blades/back: Push shoulder blades back as though you are trying to touch them together, chest pushed out.
- Chest/stomach: Take a deep breath in, filling the stomach with air like a balloon.
- Arms/hands: make fists with your hands and bring your forearm up to your shoulders as if you are showing off your biceps.
- Buttocks: squeeze your bum!
- Thighs: squeeze your thighs.
- Calves: squeeze your calve muscles – try pulling your toes towards you.
- Feet: tense your feet and toes – try curling your toes downwards
Enjoy the feeling of relaxation! Continue to breathe slowly and deeply throughout.
Here is a 7-minute video that talks you through the process.
(Disclaimer: For those who suffer from medical conditions, always consult with your doctor before trying any type of relaxation strategy)
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