What is Progressive Muscle Relaxation?
Your body responds to stress with muscle tension, which in turn can cause you pain or discomfort. Progressive muscle relaxation reduces muscle tension and reduce anxiety. Progressive muscle relaxation can also help you drop off to sleep.
How to relax in 3 steps with PMR
First of all familiarise yourself with the order in the PRM diagram. You don’t have to stick with this order exactly – just create a ‘route’ down your body that is logical to you – starting with your head and face and ending in your feet. Don’t forget your arms!
Next choose a comfortable place where you can sit comfortably or lie down. You can do this at your desk, on the sofa, in bed or on the floor. Anywhere you feel safe with minimal distractions.
1. Start by focusing on your breathing. Ideally steadily in through your nose and out through your mouth. You may find this more relaxing if you allow your eyes to fall shut.
2. As you work your way down your body you can tense your muscle as you go, frown and release for your forehead, scrunch your eyes, move your jaw in small circles, work down your body focusing on your muscles becoming tense, and then relaxing as the muscle fibres slide to a dormant state. You may find as you relax more and more you just can’t even be bothered to tense your muscles but your attention remains as you focus on muscle groups down your body.
3. When you have complete your journey down your body tensing and relaxing all the muscle groups you can simply enjoy the feeling of physical relaxation or you can continue to relax further by meditating or taking yourself on a small journey in your imagination!
How to continue your relaxation
Imagine yourself at the top of a flight of 10 steps. They could be marble or stone steps on a Mediterranean island? They could be an ornate oak staircase in a friendly country manor with a roaring fire place cracking in the distance.
In your mind walk down the steps thinking to yourself “deeper relaxed” with each step.
At the bottom of the steps you find yourself in your own special place. A place entirely for you. It can be a place you have been before. A place you have seen in a magazine or on TV, or it could be entirely from your own imagination.
Experience this special place with all your senses – what does the floor feel like against your bare feet (warm soft sand? Cool dewy grass, thick woolly carpet); what does the air around you smell like (the sea, freshly cut grass, a comforting crackling fire); what can you hear, what can you see? Experience it in as much detail as you can as you enjoy relaxing in this deep state.
When you are ready to return to reality simply walk back to the steps and slowly walk back up the 10 steps and back to the room feeling relaxed and rejuvenated.
You can come back from your special place at any time if you get interrupted or if your alarm goes off. You can return again simply by closing your eyes and taking your mind back.