Progressive muscle relaxation is a technique that promotes relaxation through oscillating between tensing and relaxing muscles of the body. It gives rise to a physiological state of relaxation through reducing blood pressure, lowering heart rate and slowed breathing- which is the opposite of a stress response. The progressive relaxation of an individual begins from their lowest body part, i.e., feet gradually go up to their body while doing deep breathing exercises simultaneously. Oscillating between tensing and relaxing the muscles, an individual becomes focused on the present moment, this encourages mindfulness. Inducing a relaxation response alleviates stress, anxiety, and improves sleep. This practice is commonly used as a part of yoga sessions, as bandhs or as a form of meditation.
This blog aims to equip you with how to practise progressive muscle relaxation and its benefits.
The best stress management counselling equips individuals with techniques to manage stress and triggers healthily. These also include progressive muscle relaxation.
One can try progressive muscle relaxation:
● Search for a serene place- free from any distractions to perform this technique. Choose a comfortable position- you can sit on a chair, or lie on the floor or bed. You can close your eyes if you prefer.
● Inhale and exhale through your nose. Imagine the tension leaving your body as you exhale through your mouth.
● Deep breath three to four times, you can breathe normally if deep breathing causes any discomfort.
● On inhaling for the fifth time, tense the feet muscles and count to four. Then gradually relax the muscles while exhaling through your mouth.
● Repeat the previous step while tensing the calf muscles, and release the tension while exhaling.
Continue this pattern of tensing the muscle while inhaling and relieving the tension while exhaling for muscles all the way up the body. This includes:
● hands, by making fists
After relaxing the tension from one part of the body, hold on, take some deep breaths before moving on to the next part. Imagine the tension leaving your body with each exhale.
Once you're through with the exercise, be still and observe how it feels. If you need to get up and move around then, then slowly open your eyes and move around.
Progressive relaxation has immense health benefits. Here is a closer look at the research of progressive muscle relaxation health benefits:
● Reducing the migraine frequency- a study conducted on 35 participants, showed that progressive relaxation reduced the number of migraine episodes experienced by them. It normalised the brainwave associated with migraine, thus, proving its efficiency at the physiological level.
● Reduce the lower back pain- the American college of physicians advocate the use of progressive muscle relaxation along with several other therapies for relieving lower back pain.
● Reducing dental anxiety- feeling anxious meeting a dentist can prevent individuals from seeking treatment. Studies have shown that practising progressive muscle relaxation can reduce dental anxiety.
● Progressive Muscle Relaxation for Anxiety- Anxiety is the prime benefit of progressive relaxation. Be it generalised anxiety disorder or a stressful situation, this technique is proven to be helpful. Various studies conducted have shown that progressive muscle relaxation reduces the symptoms of anxiety, depression and stress. This technique is also used in reducing anxiety within individuals going through stressful times during COVID-19. Health and wellness centres thus, teach individuals this technique to help them reduce anxiety, improve sleep and deal with stressors.
The benefits of Progressive muscle relaxation for anxiety, stress, and overall well-being makes it a must-know for individuals. If you are getting started with progressive muscle relaxation, you might benefit from:
● Setting a time for regularly practising progressive muscle relaxation, such as after waking up
● Selecting a calm, quiet place for practice
● Download the required video or audio tutorials to guide the exercise
● Tune in some relaxing music
● Maintain consistency to develop a routine and reap the benefits of progressive muscle relaxation.