Progressive Muscle Relaxation
Muscle relaxation reduces tension, pulse rate, blood pressure and decreases perspiration and respiration rates. Here is how it works:
- Sit in a relaxed position, eyes closed. Breathe naturally.
- Clench fists so that your arms feel tense. Ease your tension as you breathe out.
- Do the same with your lower legs, thighs, trunk, stomach, back and head. End with your whole body.
- After a few rounds, don't tense first, just relax.
- Feel heavy, then relaxed.
- You can add visualization to this technique.
Visualization is a way of simulating the experiences you have when you are in a calming environment. If you think anxious thoughts you become tense. In order to overcome negative feelings, you can use the power of your imagination to refocus your mind on positive healing images.
- Get into a comfortable position. Close your eyes.
- Imagine a place that feels serene, relaxing, and safe. It doesn’t matter what you visualize as long as it is calming to you. This can be a place in nature or a cozy room. You can recall a place in memory or create your own ideal place in imagination. Include as many of your senses as possible. See the place… Smell its smells… Hear its sounds… Feel its texture… Taste it, if possible. Focus on specific details as much as possible.
- You can be active (walking on a beach) or just resting in your imaginary spot.
- Develop the details of this place and mentally return there in times of stress.
- As you relax your mind, your body also relaxes.
Most of us when we are under stress, breathe poorly. We tense up and either hold our breath or we tend to have rushed, shallow breaths. We tend to pull upwards with our shoulders and upper chest to inhale. When we do this, less oxygen reaches our bloodstream and brain than our body likes. The result is our heart rate goes up and we become tense. The purpose of this technique is to counteract the tendency to hold your breath while under stress.
- Sit in a comfortable position.
- Take deep from your diaphragm, measured breaths, slowly
- Inhale slowly 2-4 seconds through the nose
- Exhale slowly 4-8 seconds through the mouth.
- Pause for 4 seconds
- Repeat as needed
Imagine the air you are breathing in, giving oxygen to every muscle in your body. Deep breathing assists in relaxation by increasing the amount of oxygen in the body.