Chapter 3: Relaxation
When you have anxiety or stress in your life, one of the ways your body responds is with muscle tension. Learn how to relax your body through progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) where you create tension and then release the different muscle groups of your body. This technique allows your full body to reach a state of complete relaxation and reduce anxiety and stress.
What is progressive muscle relaxation?
PMR is a technique that involves tensing specific muscle groups and then relaxing them to create awareness of tension and relaxation. It is termed progressive because it proceeds through all major muscle groups, relaxing them one at a time, and eventually leads to total muscle relaxation.
Why try progressive muscle relaxation?
PMR can reduce anxiety, stress and muscle tension. In addition, it may help you if you have trouble falling asleep or even ease headaches by focusing on the muscles of the head, neck and jaw. As you learn how tense muscles feel compared to relaxed muscles you will find a new awareness of your body and will be able to tell when you need to relax.
How do you do progressive muscle relaxation?
Follow this audio recording by Dr. Iris Torchalla which will guide you through the process. Choose a place where you won’t be interrupted and set aside about 15 minutes to complete this exercise. We recommend doing this exercise once a day for the next week or two to get the hang of it. After you have learned how to tense and relax each muscle group, you can practice tensing and relaxing specific muscle groups without going through the whole routine.
If you find that you are really getting the hang of this technique or just don’t care for audio guidance, check out the downloadable how-to document here.
Note: Be careful not to tense your muscles too hard. You should not feel any pain or cramping while completing this exercise. If you have any medical issues that impede your physical activity such as pulled muscles or broken bones please consult your doctor before trying this exercise.