Have you ever noticed how relaxed you can feel after you’ve done something physically strenuous? It’s possible to relive a little of this feeling by engaging in progressive muscle relaxation. You can do this sitting up or lying down. The goal is to tighten specific muscle groups in your body, hold the tension, and then release it and move on to the next muscle group.
You can start with your face and neck and work down your body, or you can start with your toes and feet and work up. Some people have a particular area of their body that holds their stress, and they will either start with that area or end with it. There aren’t any rules to this exercise, so you can personalize it in ways that work best for you. Your aim is to tense, hold, and release your entire body and then spend a few minutes enjoying the residual relaxation.
Some people find it helpful to listen to a CD of instructions for progressive muscle relaxation. We have one at The Center, recorded by the facilitator of our stress and relaxation class. Again, if you’re going to use one of these directed recordings, keep the volume as low as possible.
This relaxation exercise takes about twenty minutes, so you’ll want to allow for enough time. As your body becomes more familiar and you become more comfortable with this relaxation technique, you’ll find you can gain similar benefits in shorter amounts of time. Again, for you perfectionists, this isn’t some sort of race to see how fast you can get it done. The goal is to allow your body to relax, which won’t be helped if you spend the exercise anxiously watching the clock.
Give yourself permission to relax. If you’ve denied yourself the right to relax, you may need to start slowly. Start by giving yourself permission to do this muscle relaxation technique. Because you’re learning, begin by choosing a day of the week to start that is less stressful than others. Don’t add to an already stressful day by taking on another task. Once you’re more comfortable with your intentional times of relaxation, you can move forward by incorporating different relaxation techniques into your more stressful days.
Relaxation is an ability, one that can be learned and improved upon. Commit to taking your life back. Otherwise, your anxieties will continue to dominate. Ask yourself these questions:
- How committed are you to making the changes you need to make to enjoy a life filled with more times of relaxation?
- What are you willing to give up to make room for relaxation in your life?
- How committed are you to taking back control over your life, including your ability to relax, from your fears and concerns?
If you or a loved one is struggling with fear and anxiety, we invite you to seek out treatment at The Center • A Place of Hope. Treatment begins with a free personal phone call with one of our specialists. Ask yourself “What is fear doing to my life?” Then realize that help is available, and that a life free of this condition is within your reach.
The Center • A Place of HOPE specializes in the treatment of fear, anxiety and depression, and uses a whole person approach that allows you to discover what is truly going on in mind, body and spirit. Contact us today at 1-888-771-5166 and begin the healing process.