When you feel stressed where do you feel that? Most people respond with, “I feel stress in my back or my shoulders or chest. As with any emotion we experience stress in our bodies and that’s why remedial massage can help reduce stress.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR) is another easy body relaxation exercise to reduce stress when you most need it. Practice relaxing and tensing your muscles with slow breathing. This exercise will go through your entire body, one section at a time. You will tense your muscles for five counts and release for 10 counts. When you have released your muscles, use soothing words in your mental self-talk, such as “relax”, “I am now relaxed and calm”, “I am calm”, or “I am relaxed”. Begin this relaxing exercise in the following sequence:
- Tense your forearm. Make a fist with you right hand and tense your forearm steadily for five counts, then release for 10 counts. Repeat on your left
- Tense your upper arm. Tense the muscles in your biceps and triceps without the use of your forearm, bringing your right forearm up to your shoulder making a muscle. Hold for a count of five. Release it and relax for a count of 10. Repeat on your left
- Tense your face. Raise your eyebrows as high as they will go, hold for a count of 5 and release for a count of 10. Next, close your eyes and squeeze your eyes tightly holding for a count of 5 and releasing for a count of 10. Lastly, open your mouth as wide as you can as if you were going to yawn, holding for a count of 5 and releasing for a count of
- Tense your neck. A lot of tension is stored in your neck, sometimes leading to a stiff neck or even tension headaches. Be careful when tensing the muscles of your neck, as this is a sensitive area to stress buildup. Face forward and pull your head back slowly as if you are looking up to the ceiling. Hold this position for a count of five and release for a count of 10.
- Tense your shoulders. Tense the muscles in your shoulders as you bring your shoulders up to your ears and push your shoulder blades back. Hold for five counts and release for 10 counts.
- Tense your chest and stomach. Breathe in deeply. Fill your lungs and chest with as much air as possible, squeezing your hip and buttocks muscles. Hold for a count of five and relax for a count of
- Tense your upper leg. Tighten your right thigh. Hold for a count of five and release for 10 counts. Next, tense your lower right leg. This should be done carefully to avoid leg cramps, pulling your toes toward your calf muscles. Hold for five counts and release for 10 counts. Lastly, curl the toes of your right foot and hold for a count of five and release for a count of 10. Repeat on your left
Practicing this technique of tensing and relaxing helps your body recognise what it feels like to be tense and what it feels like to be relaxed. Each time that you experience a stressful moment, practice this technique. With continued practice you will be able to notice when you are stressed just by the change in the feel of your body. This will give you the power to control stress, instead of having stress control you.
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