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Massage will improve both mental and physical health. It can stimulate muscles and and glads to improve immunity, balance, breathing, digestion.  This will impact your mood, relationships, weight loss and how you feel about yourself.

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Stress Management: Doing Progressive Muscle Relaxation

Introduction

Have you ever had an aching back or pain in your neck when you were anxious or stressed? When you have anxiety or stress in your life, one of the ways your body responds is with muscle tension. Progressive muscle relaxation is a method that helps relieve that tension.

  • In progressive muscle relaxation, you tense a group of muscles as you breathe in, and you relax them as you breathe out. You work on your muscle groups in a certain order.

  • When your body is physically relaxed, you cannot feel anxious. Practicing progressive muscle relaxation for a few weeks will help you get better at this skill, and in time you will be able to use this method to relieve stress.

  • When you first start, it may help to use an audio recording until you learn all the muscle groups in order. Check your local library or a bookstore for progressive muscle relaxation audio recordings.

  • If you have trouble falling asleep, this method may also help with your sleep problems.

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The procedure

You can use an audio recording to help you focus on each muscle group, or you can learn the order of muscle groups and do the exercises from memory. Choose a place where you won't be interrupted and where you can lie down on your back and stretch out comfortably, such as a carpeted floor.

  1. Breathe in, and tense the first muscle group (hard but not to the point of pain or cramping) for 4 to 10 seconds.

  2. Breathe out, and suddenly and completely relax the muscle group (do not relax it gradually).

  3. Relax for 10 to 20 seconds before you work on the next muscle group. Notice the difference between how the muscles feel when they are tense and how they feel when they are relaxed.

  4. When you are finished with all of the muscle groups, count backward from 5 to 1 to bring your focus back to the present.

 

After you have learned how to tense and relax each muscle group, here's something else to try. When you have a very tense muscle, you can practice tensing and relaxing that muscle area without going through the whole routine.

Here is how it works;

  1. While inhaling, contract one muscle group (for example your upper thighs) for 5 seconds to 10 seconds, then exhale and suddenly release the tension in that muscle group.

  2. Give yourself 10 seconds to 20 seconds to relax, and then move on to the next muscle group (for example your buttocks).

  3. While releasing the tension, try to focus on the changes you feel when the muscle group is relaxed. Imagery may be helpful in conjunction with the release of tension, such as imagining that stressful feelings are flowing out of your body as you relax each muscle group.

  4. Gradually work your way up the body contracting and relaxing muscle groups.

People who suffer from insomnia often report that practicing progressive muscle relaxation at night helps them fall asleep. Progressive muscle relaxation is also an excellent tool to help learn about the body and the signals it may be telling you. With practice and time, you can learn to accurately identify and diminish the signs and signals of stress and tension in your body.

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