Yeah, I know, it is difficult to comprehend relaxing when you are faced with massive stress. Relaxing seems about as far removed from stress as you can get. But learning to relax can go a long way to helping you manage your stress.
I’m not talking about something like sitting in front of the TV or indulging in your favorite hobby. I’m talking about learning how to take positive steps to reduce tension and decrease the effects of stress on both your mind and your body. Once learned, you will be able to you cope better with stress everyday. Not only that, there are added benefits.
Learning and practicing simple relaxation techniques is not just about reducing stress. There are other health benefits as well. Relaxation can;
- Slow your heart rate
- Lower blood pressure
- Slow your breathing
- Reduce muscle tension
– that can help reduce pain
- Help negate anger, frustration and other negative moods or feeling.
There are many different techniques available. Here I just want to give you one simple technique that you can do easily, almost anytime anywhere.
Progressive muscle relaxation is a technique that is easy to learn and one of the most most effective so let’s get started. Whilst you can do this more or less wherever you are, the usual caveat applies; please do not try it whilst driving or operating heavy machinery. And perhaps not if you are flying an aeroplane – just a thought.
We are going to focus on tensing and then releasing the tension, in each muscle group. This helps you become aware of the difference between a tense state and a relaxed state. This is important because continuous and unnecessary tension is not good. I can guarantee that, right now, your are tense in muscle groups that don’t need to be tense. The only muscles that should be tense, at any given time, are those muscles needed to maintain posture. Relax the rest.
I recommend starting with your toes and working up to your head. Scrunch up you toes and make a ‘fist’ with you foot. Focus your attention on your foot. Hold the tension for a few seconds then let go making a conscious effort to relax your foot completely for a good ten seconds or more. Be aware of the different states. Now focus on the other foot and do the same. Follow that with each of your calves, then thighs, buttocks and so on, up to your scalp. Focus, tense then relax each muscle group in turn.
That should take you less than ten minutes from toe to tip. Simple really. At the end of it you will be feeling more relaxed and better able to keep your calm in the face of stress. Try it, practice it, use it. You’ll see, it is a very effective technique.