Archive for October, 2012

Progressive Muscle Relaxation

October 22, 2012

Progressive Muscle Relaxation, or PMR, is an exercise that with practice will help you to achieve deep relaxation as well as to learn to notice even slight degrees of excess muscle tension during ordinary activities.

To learn and practice PMR, you’ll need a private, quiet room with a comfortable, high-backed chair or recliner. You can also use a couch or bed, as long as you don’t find yourself falling asleep. The exercises take 15-30 minutes per session, depending on the level of relaxation you need or the time you have available.

PMR helps you tense and then relax different sets of muscles in your body, slowly and systematically. By intentionally creating extra tension in the muscles, you can relax them even more when you release that added tension. This method is easy to learn and can be practiced almost anywhere you can lie down or sit down. If you feel that techniques involving more mental activity, such as meditation, seem too slow or not stimulating enough, then PMR may be right for you. PMR can also be good for quick relaxation in a situation that is not normally quiet or restful, such as riding on a bus or on a break at your job. If you have a lot of body tension, this may help you manage that tension. If you have some physical problems that could be made worse by tensing muscles, you may need to work around the problem areas, or think about finding a relaxation technique other than PMR.

Follow the directions below for a PMR experience. Hold the tension for 5-10 seconds, then relax the muscles suddenly, not gradually. Pause for about 10 seconds between steps. If you can, do each set of muscles twice. Get into a comfortable position and try to relax as much as you can.

Hands: Make a tight fist with both hands and pull them back at the wrist. Keep this as tight as you can for 10 seconds, then release suddenly. Feel how your hands seem more relaxed afterward.

Biceps: Bend your elbows and tense your biceps. Pull them back tightly and feel the tension against your muscles. Let your hands drop and notice the difference as you release the tension.

Face: First wrinkle your forehead so that it has deep furrows. Hold it, then release. Now squint your eyes and wrinkle your nose. Clench your teeth and pull back the corners of your mouth. Release the face muscles and feel the difference as you let that tension go.

Neck: Carefully roll your neck forward, then around, slowly but tightly. Go all the way around until you are back where you started.

Shoulders: Life and shrug your shoulders as high as you can. Imagine your shoulders on strings being pulled up. Hold it tightly for 10 seconds, then release.

Upper Back: Breathe in deeply, and pull your shoulder blades behind you as if you are trying to make them touch. Exhale and let your shoulders fall back to their natural position.

Abdomen: Next, tighten your stomach as if you are about to hold something heavy on it. Feel the tension across your abdomen for the 10 seconds, then release.

Back: Slowly tense your back so that it is tight, but you are not curving it too much. Hold the tension in your back, then release.

Upper Leg: Straighten out your legs, and keep them tense. Keep your toes curled down and hold it there, then release.

Shin: For your shin, pull your toes upward, stretching out your heel. Hold it there pointing upward toward your head. Then release.

Calf & Foot: Push your toes downward, curling them inward. Point your toes in and arch your foot, feeling the curl underneath your foot. Now release and relax.

Ways to Reduce Stress

October 10, 2012

Here are some stress reducers:
Biking, swimming, running – find exercises you enjoy. Exercise causes a chemical reaction in the brain that naturally relaxes you and improves your mood. Exercise on a regular basis (after checking with your doctor).

Get Enough Sleep
Your body needs energy to deal with stress, and lack of sleep is one of the most common causes of stress.

Eat Right
A healthy, balanced diet helps the body handle the physical demands of stress. Stress can hinder the immune system. Limit the intake of caffeine, alcohol, refined sugar and salt. Increase the low-fat, high-fiber foods you eat.

Talk to Someone
Don’t keep what you’re feeling inside.

To Manage Stress in a Crisis

Get Out
Physically leave the source of stress. If it’s a coworker, walk away. If it’s a situation, leave until you are able to calm down, think things through and come back with a healthy attitude and perspective.

Take a Time-Out
Stop what you’re doing, find a quiet place, close your eyes and take a deep breath. As you exhale, imagine the tension streaming out of you. Do this several times, concentrating on relaxing key body areas – forehead, shoulders, neck and stomach.

Look for whatever helps youo cope in a positive way. Some people find their religious faith or talking with family and friends helpful in times of stress. Others find time alone to be beneficial.