“Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are.” – Chinese Proverb
Remember that progressive muscle relaxation is systematically tensing and relaxing muscle groups throughout your body. Generally, people will either start at the top or bottom of their bodies and progress in the opposite direction.
To begin using progressive muscle relaxation, follow these simple steps:
- Find a comfortable position, whether sitting on a chair or on the floor.
- Inhale through the nose and tense a muscle group.
- Hold your breath and the tension in your muscles for a few moments.
- Release the muscle tension as you exhale.
- Relax for 10 seconds.
- Repeat twice for each muscle group.
- Continue the process through the entire body.
- After you’ve tensed and released each muscle group twice count backwards from 5 to 1 to bring your focus back to the present.
Progressive muscle relaxation can help you reduce anxiety immediately by reducing the cortisol levels in your body (a hormone released when you’re stressed). It can also help combat insomnia, and, in some studies, has been shown to reduce the symptoms of certain types of chronic pain. Try it and see if you recognize any of these benefits in your own life.
Learn more about other grounding techniques here.