The technique of progressive muscle relaxation involves the process of providing tension to the muscles and then relaxing these muscles. This technique was developed in the 1920s by American physicist Edmund Jacobson. The progressive muscle relaxation therapy is used for the purpose of reducing anxiety and its associated problems.
▶ What is Progressive Muscle Relaxation?
☀ Progressive Muscle Relaxation is a therapy in which the muscles of arms, legs, chest, abdomen and face are alternately tensed and relaxed. The basic idea or essence of this technique is that one should experience/feel how the muscles are tensed and relaxed. Distinguishing the feelings associated with tension and relaxation is possible with the help of this therapy.
☀ By practicing progressive muscle relaxation, along with the physical component, the mental component is also important from the point of this therapy. Patients with problems like anxiety are not sure about whether the exercise would work. This, very aspect of thinking (negative thinking, to be precise) is dealt with during progressive muscle relaxation.
☀ The patient is advised to feel/sense the process of progressive relaxation rather than think about it. As the body is relaxed after being tensed, a sense of warmth engulfs the body and mind. This feeling of warmth helps in reducing anxiety; negative thinking is therefore, reduced over time. Practice is the key to get better and better by means of progressive relaxation therapy.
▶ How to Use the Progressive Relaxation Technique
The position of lying down or sitting is recommended for this therapy. Eyes must be closed while performing the exercise. The period for tension and relaxation should be 10 seconds and 20 seconds respectively. A total of 30 minutes are required to complete the whole exercise. It is quite common for people with anxiety disorder to feel frustrated in the beginning. However, regular exercise should help the patients to master this technique.
▶ Body parts that can be Exercised
The progressive relaxation therapy is one of the important and effective ways to relax; it helps calm down the nerves and allows to exercise with different body parts. A simple exercise for the beginner would be that of tightening the fist and then relaxing it. Different body parts that can be exercised include the lower legs and feet, forearms and hands, entire arms, shoulder, face, chest and abdomen.
▶ Useful Tips
Here are a few tips that one should follow in order to make the best use of progressive muscle relaxation therapy. The time taken to master this technique varies from person-to-person; however, tips mentioned below should certainly help in speeding up the process.
☀ The exercises included in progressive muscle relaxation therapy should be performed before meals. Following this practice ensures the smooth functioning of digestive system. It is also necessary to avoid drinking and smoking before doing these exercises.
☀ A quiet place should be chosen for progressive muscle relaxation therapy . Choosing a place with the least amount of disturbances will increase the effectiveness of this therapy.
☀ Sitting in a chair is recommended to perform the progressive relaxation exercise. One tends to feel sleepy if the exercise is performed while lying down. A sitting position is therefore, recommended.
The disorder of anxiety can be reduced or at least, minimized to a great extent with the help of progressive muscle relaxation. There are however, many other, related benefits offered by the use of this therapy.
☀ The frequency of panic attacks is reduced to a great extent with the help of progressive muscle relaxation therapy.
☀ The patient learns to have a better control over moods by using the progressive muscle relaxation therapy.
☀ By practicing progressive muscle relaxation therapy, there is a marked difference in the ability and confidence to face phobic situations.
☀ There is a general increase in self-esteem by practicing progressive muscle relaxation therapy.
☀ The ability to concentrate increases manifold through progressive muscle relaxation therapy.
☀ Through the progressive muscle relaxation therapy, the change in behavior also gets reflected in the spontaneity exhibited by the patient.