"Need to de-stress? Progressive muscle relaxation is an excellent clinically proven way to release tension"- by Annie O'Brien
Progressive muscle relaxation is a very simple and effective way to reduce tension in the body simply and easily as it induces the relaxation response rapidly. The exercise has multiple health benefits as it provides a practical way to release tension held in the body. When practised daily this exercise can relieve anxiety, lower blood pressure, improve an individual's quality of sleep, alleviate pain, energise an individual and generally create a feeling of well being.
The relaxation response becomes intensified every time you practice as the body is trained to release tension and does so more rapidly with each successive session.
The body holds tension in the muscles. When individuals are under stress and feeling pressured in their lives the muscles tend to hold even more tension. This can be exhausting and lead one to feeling almost permenantly fatigued. When individuals are experiencing pain they can hold even more tension in the muscles which can be quite draining. By methodically and consciously tensing and relaxing different muscle groups in the body the indiviual increase awareness of where and how they hold tension. This allows them to become highly perceptive and somatically educated as to how and when they become tense and stressed.
By purposefully and mindfully tensing muscles for approximately six seconds and then release the tension quickly allowing the muscle to become loose, limp and completely relaxed simply letting go. As the release happens exhale completely.
When the exercise is practised consistently after a couple of weeks an idividual becomes quite adept at inducing relaxation rapidly as they notice immediately when if stress or anxiety related tension begins to creep into the body as a result of outside influence or external life events. The bodies level of arousal provoked by the stressful circumstances can be dealt with immediately in a simple effective way, thus calming the nervous system.
This exercise is incredibly beneficial for anyone experiencing anxiety, insomnia, pain, fatigue or feelings of panic. Below is a link to a free audio download that I recorded for my clients in order to allow them to practice at home.
Jacobson's Progressive Relaxation Exercise -
A short 20 minute exercise
Free download here -
Annie O'Brien M.Sc. MIACP MIHA has a Masters Degree in Integrative Counselling and Psychotherapy from Turning Point Institute and Dublin City University. This course is one of the leading training courses in Ireland and is recognised by the Irish Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy (IACP), the Irish Association of Humanistic and Integrative Psychotherapy (IAHIP) and the European Association for Integrative Psychotherapy (EAIP).