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Progressive Muscle Relaxation

According to WedMD, this method of tightening then releasing different muscles of the body for ten to twenty minutes a day can help relieve stress and sleep issues. We know that if we reduce stress and sleep better,

we can lower our anxiety levels. What this technique does is allows you to become more connected to your body through a sequence of muscle tightening and relaxing.

Developed in the 1920s by Dr. Edmund Jacobsen, he used PMR (Progressive Muscle Relaxation) ease his patient’s anxiety and mind. The trick is to focus on one muscle group at a time, while relaxing all the others.

This method of relaxation isn’t widely promoted, but can be a healthy suggestion for the growing number of adults and adolescents (even children) that have been battling with chronic anxiety and stress.

What are the benefits of PMR

  • Lowering blood pressure

  • Relieving anxiety

  • Seizure reduction

  • Improving sleep

How to use PMR

1. As with many relaxation techniques, lay down on your back on a yoga mat or comfortable floor. Begin with breathing in for a few counts and exhaling for a few counts. Do this for enough breaths to bring focus and attention to you breath.

2. Call attention to the extremities of your body, one section at a time. Start with your feet, gently pointing and flexing your feet with tight (but not strained) toe curling at the apex of each move.

3. Take a moment to notice the tension then release it. Repeat this, mentally aware of the tension and the relaxation of the muscles. ‘Progressively’ flex and point your foot, aware of tensing and relaxing your leg muscles.

4. Move to your abdominal region (including your hands). Gently engage your center and fist then open your hands without excessive strain. Squeeze just enough to feel the tension then relax and release. Make your mind aware, connecting it to the tightening and relaxing.

5. Moving to the upper portion of the body, shrug your shoulder towards your ears, tensing without strain, feeling your neck tense as well. Then release and repeat until you have connected your mind to your body during the tension and relaxation of each move.

My personal tips

If you have certain areas that hold tension naturally, take extra care when practicing the muscle tension and relaxation. Hold your tension for longer and truly hold your relaxation longer during each repetition for this particular part of the body. I always hold tension in my jaw, so I tend to work muscles of my face and jaw as well as the body. Probably not a bad way to keep your wrinkles away either.

To see micro videos of these instructions see the Healthline post on PMR.

Take matters of your health into your own hands before it gets out of control. Being conscious of what works for you and what doesn’t is imperative to sustaining a positive mental state. We may not be able to escape all of the stresses of life, but we certainly can try to manage the effects that stress puts on our bodies.

& Live Free

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