Progressive muscular relaxation is a type of relaxation exercise. Contrary to some popular misconceptions, everybody can learn to achieve a relaxed and meditative state of mind. This state of mind is essential for our physical, emotional and psychological health.
Medical science has proven that relaxation calms our nervous system, boosts our body’s defences against illness, including cancer, improves our mental abilities, such as our attention and concentration, assists our coordination and enhances our memory. Relaxation can also alleviate pain, depression and anxiety, improve our sense of well being, help access our subconscious mind and optimise our potential and performance.
Just as regular physical exercise is good for our psychological well being, relaxation exercise also has the same, if not a greater, effect on our psychological health. By doing regular relaxation exercise, you can lower the stress level and its negative impacts on your body and mind. The following exercise, which involves alternately tensing and relaxing your muscles is a simple but effective way to enhance your psychological health. You may want to follow the exercises contained in the Healthy Mind Concepts “Calm Optimiser”, once you have mastered this or if you find that this is unsuitable for you.
- Go to a quiet place with minimal noises and distractions.
- Sit in a comfortable chair or lie down.
- You may turn on some soft music if you like.
- Mentally divide your body into 4 different anatomical groups:
- The head and neck
- The chest and upper limbs
- The abdomen
- The hips, thighs and the lower limbs
- Breathe in a deep breath and tense your head and neck muscles at the same time. (You can tense the muscles by pressing your head backward, blow your cheeks and screw your eyes tightly). Tense your muscles as much as you can and register the degree of tension by giving it a number from 0 to 10 (0 is absolutely no tension and 10 is the tensest).
- Next breathe out as deeply as you can and relax your muscles as much as you can. Give a number to the state of your muscles from 0 to 10. Mentally note the difference between the tensed and relaxed states.
- Repeat the tensing and relaxing procedure three times to the same muscle group before moving on.
- Next progress to the chest and upper limbs, using the same procedure of breathing, tensing and relaxing. (You can tense this muscle group by shrugging your shoulders, bending your elbows and wrists and clenching your fists). Repeat this three times.
- Now progress to the abdomen. (You can tense your abdomen by pushing it out). Repeat the same procedure three times.
- Finally, progress to the hips and lower limbs. (You can tense the muscles by stiffening your entire lower limbs as though they are lead pipes, lifting your lower limbs away from the floor or ground and lifting the toes away from the sole of your feet toward your head.). Repeat this three times.
You should be feeling pretty relaxed after this.
Perform exercise as often as you can. The more you do this exercise, the better you will become. When you become good at this, you will not need to seek a quiet place to do this. You can even do this in public places, whilst traveling on public transports, or in the work place without the notice of others.