Stress Reducing Techniques: Progressive Muscle Relaxation

Hello Everyone,
At a time when stress and anxiety run high for so many, I thought it would be helpful to share my top four relaxation techniques.  These techniques are not necessarily new or original but I have put my own spin on them based on feedback I have received from clients.  In my opinion, the order you learn these in may influence their efficacy.  My strong suggestion is to begin with the Deep Breathing Technique, it is the foundation for Progressive Relaxation and the type of breathing I refer to anytime I suggest to taking a “deep breath” (see our previous post to learn the Deep Breathing Technique!)
These techniques can be taught to any age person and have been proven effective at lowering feelings of stress and anxiety time and time again.
You will hopefully find all four techniques helpful and enjoyable.  Watch our blog for these relaxation techniques: Deep Breathing, Progressive Muscle Relaxation, The Perfect Moment in Time and Guided Imagery.  Use the deep breathing technique throughout your day, everyday with the intent of lowering your level of stress and anxiety over all.  Especially use it when faced with a tough situation.  Progressive Relaxation is especially helpful when you are having physical responses to stress.  You can share “Perfect Moments” with your partner, your kids and your friends.  Guided Imagery is like an experiential story with out a heavy plot.  You can share that with others, too.

Progressive Muscle Relaxation

At one time or another most of us have felt stress and anxiety in our bodies. Think in terms of that feeling you get in your stomach when faced with something you dread doing or that tension headache or migraine or the ever popular pain in the neck! This is your body’s way of saying “Stop carrying stress in me!”

Here is a great way to de-stress your body:

Sit or lay in a comfortable position, a recliner or couch or bed are all good options.

Take two very slow and very deep breaths. Continue breathing slowly and deeply.

On the third deep breath, begin to tense the muscles in your toes and feet as you inhale. As you exhale, slowly relax those same muscles.

On the fourth deep breath, tense the muscles in your legs as you slowly inhale.

Continue up your body working each group of muscles, tensing as you inhale slowly and deeply and relaxing the muscles as you slowly and deeply exhale.

Once you reach your head (don’t forget there are many muscles in your face and head!) work your way back down to your toes. Then do it all one more time, working your way up from your toes to your head and back down to your toes. Take two more slow and deep breaths and just relax.

This is a great way to start each morning and a great way to end each day. Once you practice Progressive Muscle Relaxation you will find it only takes a few minutes each time you do it. This is a particularly helpful technique for those who suffer with migraine headaches and IBS. The more you learn to control your muscles, the more you can relax them when they become tense.

I trust you will find this to be an enjoyable and relaxing technique.

Louella DeVries, LCPC

President, Olive Branch Counseling Associates, Inc.

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