The next item in this article is “eliciting the relaxation response.” Let’s start at the basics, with progressive muscle relaxation.
There are two steps to progressive muscle relaxation: tension, followed by relaxation of the tension muscles. You will focus on one muscle group at a time, on just one side of the body. Let’s say you’re starting with your right hand. As you inhale, squeeze your right hand as hard as you can for five seconds (be careful not to hurt yourself when tensing muscle groups). In these five seconds, focus on what the tension feels like. Then, exhale and quickly release your fist. Let all the tension dissolve from the right hand for five seconds. These five seconds are the most important part of this exercise. Focus on what relaxation feels like. Contrast that with tension. You will repeat this sequence until you have tensed and relaxed all the muscles groups on both sides of your body. You can use this video to guide you.
The point of progressive muscle relaxation is to make us aware of the feeling of tension. I so often see people walk into the office with their shoulders drawn up to their ears. They are no longer aware that those muscles are tense! It will take more than one session, but by consistently doing this exercise, you will relearn what tension actually feels like and become more aware of when you are tense throughout the day.
9 thoughts on “Progressive muscle relaxation”
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