Training: Progressive Muscle Relaxation
Progressive Muscle Relaxation, like Diaphragmatic Breathing, is a technique that can interrupt the body's "Fight or Flight" response and activate a normal relaxation response. It's a very simple process of tensing and releasing selected muscle groups in order to relax them and provide an overall relaxed state in the body. Why don't you give it a try?
*Requires the latest version of flash player.
You can also download just the zipped audio file of the Progressive Muscle Relaxation exercise. Progressive_Muscle_Relaxation
FAQs - Frequently Asked Questions
How will knowing how to do progressive muscle relaxation help me with my stress?
During the fight or flight response, the larger muscle groups of the arms and legs as well as the muscles of the chest and back become flooded with oxygen-rich blood. The brain signals these muscles to "get ready for action" which often causes them to become tense. When the call to action doesn't arrive, there is nothing to discharge the tension. Often this leads to muscle aches and "knots." Progressive muscle relaxation focuses on tensing and relaxing these muscles thereby discharging any tension that has been retained in the muscle.
I feel silly when I try progressive muscle relaxation. Is there something else I can try?
Of course! Try diaphragmatic breathing or yoga. They are both excellent ways to help relax yourself. But don't give up on progressive muscle relaxation. It really works. If you feel silly, make sure you are doing it alone. One of the best times is when you are lying in bed about to go to sleep. Just keep the lights off so no one will see you!
I tried progressive muscle relaxation but I don't think it worked. What am I doing wrong?
If you are tensing your muscles and holding the tension for up to 10 seconds and then releasing then you are doing it correctly. It does take practice, however, to "tune in" to your muscles and your body to get a sense of how much tension you may be carrying. Try and be patient and continue to practice progressive muscle relaxation. It's benefits may be more subtle than you are expecting.
Remember to Think Small
This site is designed to be a work in progress. We are constantly refining and improving it based on your feedback and suggestions. Your message is anonymous, so please feel free to let us know what you think!