In my first blog I explained some abdominal breathing techniques. In this blog I will explain Progressive Muscle Relaxation techniques, which I often recommend (McKay et al, 2007).
Progressive Muscle Relaxation techniques are simply about tensing and relaxing your muscles. Stress, anxiety and fear leads to tension in our body. Tightening the muscles and suddenly releasing them, could induce a state of relaxation. There are a couple of techniques, but not everybody likes the same exercises, so I will mention a few different ones.
1)Make a fist of each hand, and clench them together. Hold this for 10 seconds and then release for 30 seconds. Notice the difference between holding them thight and relaxing them.
2)Raise your eyebrows so you feel the tension in your forehead. Hold it, then let your eyebrows drop.
3)Bring up your shoulders, as if you want them to touch your ears. Hold it, then let them fall back down again.
4)Press your legs together so that you can feel the tension in your inner thighs. Hold it, then release.
The exercises need to be repeated and require some practice before fully understanding the sifference between relaxation and tension. Doing those exercises help you to find out where your body holds tension and the aim is to recognise the physical signs of relaxation.
Oh, and don’t forget to breathe!
Esther is an assistant psychologist at Willingness. She works with adults and couples. She has a special interest in mental health. She can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org.