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Stress Management Tip – Progressive Relaxation

Stress Management Tip – Progressive Relaxation
By David Tomaselli

Negative thoughts and feelings can significantly contribute to the tension we experience in our bodies. Most of the time we are unaware of the tension in our bodies until it manifests as a physical condition such as muscle tightness in the body, headaches and even stomach ulcers. Progressive relaxation serves as a great way relax the body at the first sign of tension.

Progressive relaxation involves systematically tensing and relaxing various groups of muscles in an orderly sequence. By regularly practicing this technique, you can train yourself to recognize the feelings associated with tensed and relaxed muscles. Recognizing the tension or stress in your body at an early stage gives you the opportunity to stop it before it becomes a major physical problem.

When performing the progressive relaxation technique it important to follow the following guide lines
• Do this technique in a quiet room where no one can interrupt you
• Sit on a comfortable chair, couch, recliner or lie on a bed
• Allocate around 10-15 minutes every day as your scheduled time for this technique
• Note the sensations you experience tensing and relaxing the various muscle groups.

Start off by closing your eyes and taking a few deep breaths for one minute. Then start progressive tensing and relaxing the various muscle groups. The sequence of muscles varies slightly depending on how much time you have however the general order is as follows:

• Toes
• Knees
• Entire right leg
• Entire left leg
• Right hand
• Right forearm and hand
• Entire right arm
• Left hand
• Left forearm and hand
• Entire left arm
• Abdomen
• Chest
• Neck and shoulders
• Face

At the end you should be feeling quite relaxed. Keep your eyes closed and breathe in deeply. Slowly start moving your fingers and wriggling your toes. Breathe in deeply again and stretch gently. Then breathe in deeply one more time and open your eyes.

NOTE: because this technique involves deliberate tensing of muscles, it is important to check with your physician if you have any medical history of muscle problems.

For more stress tips go to Manage Stress.