Progressive muscle relaxation is a relaxation technique that has been effectively used to calm stress and anxiety as well as help you sleep. Progressive muscle relaxation is based upon the simple practice of tensing, or tightening, one muscle group at a time followed by a relaxation phase with release of the tension.
Most therapists recommend tensing and relaxing the muscle groups one at a time in a specific order, generally beginning with the feet and ending with the face and head. Practice this technique either seated or lying down and in a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed.
Here is how it works;
- While inhaling, contract one muscle group (for example your feet) for 5 seconds to 10 seconds, then exhale and suddenly release the tension in that muscle group.
- Give yourself 10 to 20 seconds to relax, and then move on to the next muscle group (for example the lower part of your legs).
- While releasing the tension, try to focus on how you feel when the muscle group is relaxed. Imagine that stress and tension are flowing out of your body as you relax each muscle group.
- Gradually work your way up the body contracting and relaxing muscle groups.
My clients who practice this for insomnia often report they fall asleep before they even complete the exercise.
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