If You’re Already Feeling Anxiety or Stress Because You’re About to Learn How to Perform a Relaxation Technique, You’re in the Right Place!
The Progressive Muscle Relaxation exercise is great to help anyone suffering from stress and anxiety. I often tell clients it is a wonderful exercise to attempt at bedtime. Most of my clients suffering from stress and anxiety have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep and doing this exercise before bed definitely helps. Besides, I’ve found that if you’re performing the exercise correctly, you can easily fall asleep.
PMR is fine for adults and children alike, so if you have little ones exhibiting signs of anxiety or stress; possibly during a thunderstorm, and they’re old enough to follow simple directions (I would say age 5 and up is appropriate) they can also benefit from this exercise.
The act of progressively tightening and relaxing the muscles is done in different muscle groups in the body. Not only are you progressing through the muscles groups but also progressing to one final, and very large whole body tightening.
Before you begin this progressive muscle relaxation exercise you should find a comfortable place to lie if you’re not going to be in your bed. Make sure your body is very comfortable, your neck and head are supported and you’re able to lie completely flat on your back with your arms by your side and your legs fully extended.
As you lie there you should focus on your breath, keep your eyes closed and notice feeling relaxed in your feet and ankles. Now you should tighten (flex) your ankles and toes, paying attention to how it feels when those muscles are tensed. After holding for a few seconds ( I do a count of 5 alligator), slowly relax your ankles and toes. Notice how different your muscles feel now that they’re relaxed. Now repeat this again by tightening your toes and ankles, hold it, and relax. Continue breathing and now move up to your calf muscles.
Tighten and flex your calf muscles. Hold for the 5 alligator count, noticing how it feels to have your calves tightened, and now relax them. Once your calf muscles are relaxed, notice the difference between how they feel relaxed and how they felt when they were flexed. Repeat tensing your calf muscles one more time, hold, and release. Each time notice how they feel tightened and relaxed and the difference of each.
You will continue this process moving up to your thighs, hips, buttocks, stomach, chest, arms, shoulders, neck, head (both the top of your head and your temples) and face (include forehead, eyes, cheeks, mouth, and jaws).
After following this process for each muscle group, take a few slow breaths and check-in with your body and notice any areas that still feel tight and tense.
Now you’re going to go for a full body contraction and relax. You’re going to attempt to contract, tighten, flex every part of your body all at once and hold for a count of 5 alligator. Notice how your body feels completely tensed. Relax and take a slow breath and focus on how your body feels as it is letting go and relaxing. Taking another slow breath, focus on your completely relaxed body.
Take it With You
I love this technique because it works and when I’ve tried it I rarely can get through the entire thing before falling asleep. When I have reached the end I notice how my body feels as though it has sunk deeply into the bed, as it does after a night of sleeping. This is proof to me that I have been able to fully relax my muscles.
Please print this post and use the accompanying progressive muscle relaxation exercise PDF as a quick reminder or cheat sheet. Keep it at work or other places you feel overwhelmed with stress and anxiety. You don’t need to complete the entire exercise in order to see benefits. Unless you work for a very creative start-up, you likely wont be able to lie down on the floor in your office, and chances are, even if you do have a very understanding employer, they won’t understand why you didn’t return to work after falling asleep doing a deep relaxation exercise.
However, while sitting at lunch or at your desk you can certainly take a few minutes to tighten and relax your toes and ankles, calf muscles, thighs, or arms.
Take the time to take care of yourself. Your body, mind, work, and relationships will all notice the difference.
To your continued growth,