New Year. Less Stress.

I’ll be honest, the last few months have been nothing short of an emotional roller-coaster. I’ve lost my dad to his long battle with cancer. I’ve attended 3 other funerals on top of that. My good friend from the Marine Corps has just passed away. I stress about money and it’s deceptive ways of constantly leaving my pockets.  I’ve loved, laughed, cried, hurt, been filled with rage, and truly been to the very top and to the very bottom.

I feel that like me, 99.9% of people feel these emotions as well at times. I have my own mechanisms for dealing with stress and I’ve been able to refine those through training from the Marine Corps, my education, and my routines (the gym, etc.). Some of you may not know how to deal with stress or may know of others who do not know how to deal with stress. I wanted to give you a technique that I’ve used many times to help with regulating my arousal levels. You will be astounded at how much better you feel in a pressured or stress situation. Give it a shot and let me know in the comments below how you felt before, during, and after.

 

Progressive muscle relaxation (or PMR) is a technique for reducing anxiety by alternately tensing and relaxing the muscles. This is shown to have benefits at helping release mental anxiety. The physical component involves the tensing and relaxing of muscle groups over the legs, abdomen, chest, arms and face. During this time you will have your eyes closed and in we will do the sequence in a pattern.  Tension will be placed into a muscle group for approximately 10 seconds and then slowly released for 20 seconds before continuing with the next muscle group.

Simply focus on the feelings of the tensed muscle. This focus on the muscle contracting and relaxing will allow you to feel the heaviness and warmth of the muscle. This soothing feeling should you translate into helping relax.

How to practice progressive muscle relaxation

1. Lie on your back with your eyes closed, feet slightly apart, arms  slightly away from sides, and palms upward.

2. Allow your breath to slow down. Put your entire attention on the breath as it moves in and out. (Pause 20 counts.)

3. Tense the muscles of your feet. (Pause 5 counts and gently relax.  Pause 20 counts. REPEAT.)

4. Tense the muscles of your calves. (Pause 5 counts. Relax. Let the tension go. Pause 20 counts. REPEAT.)

5. Tense the muscles of your stomach. (Pause 5 counts. Relax. Let the tension go. Pause 20 counts. REPEAT.)

6. Tense the muscles of your chest. (Pause 5 counts. Relax. Let the tension go. Pause 20 counts. REPEAT.)

7. Clench your fists tightly. (Pause 5 counts. Relax. Let the tension go.  Pause 20 counts. REPEAT.)

8. Tense your elbows and tense your biceps. Hold them tight. (Pause 5 counts. Relax and straighten arms. Pause 20 counts. REPEAT.)

9. Tense the muscles of your neck. (Pause 5 counts. Relax. Let the tension go. Pause 20 counts. REPEAT.)

10. Tense the muscles of your head and face. (Pause 5 counts. Relax.  Let the tension go. Pause 20 counts. REPEAT.)

 

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