Progressive Muscle Relaxation is a relaxation technique in which you intentionally tense and release certain muscles in the body. With practice, you learn to notice the difference between tension and relaxation in the body. Studies have shown that this awareness and control can help those who deal with anxiety and insomnia.
Before you begin, ensure that you are in a comfortable and distraction-free space where you will be able to focus on this process for around 15 minutes. Sit or lie down, close your eyes, and take a few deep breaths. Progressive Muscle Relaxation is a two-step process: first the tension and then the release.
Step 1 – Tense
Think about and focus on the particular body part. Inhale and apply tension to the muscles of that particular body part by squeezing it for about 5 seconds while continuing to breathe. Really work to only allow the muscles of that body part to tense and not any surrounding muscles.
Step 2 – Release
Now release the muscles of the particular body part as quickly as you can while exhaling. Allow the muscles to become loose and the body part to go limp. Focus on this feeling and the difference between the previous feeling of tension. Stay released for about 15 seconds before moving on to the next body part’s muscle group.
Order of Muscle Groups
Begin at the bottom of your body and work your way up as follows:
-repeat on the other side of the body
-repeat on the other side
-neck and shoulders
Once you’ve gone through all the muscle groups, allow yourself to enjoy this state of deep relaxation. It is recommended when beginning Progressive Muscle Relaxation to practice this process twice a day for a couple weeks. There are CDs and YouTube videos which can guide you through the process as well if desired.
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