Take a deep breath and think about how your body’s feeling right now. Are your teeth clenched? Maybe your shoulders are tense? Or your neck feels sore?
In today’s busy world, stress can sneak up on you and wreak havoc on your body and mind. A few common effects of stress include headaches, fatigue, an upset stomach, trouble sleeping, anxiety and angry outbursts – not fun, right?
It’s important to recognise the symptoms of stress and nip them in the bud before they turn into more severe health issues. A fantastic way of helping you identify the difference between tension and relaxation is through a technique called progressive muscle relaxation (PMR).
What is progressive muscle relaxation aka body scan?
Progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) is an anxiety reduction method that’s been around since the 1930s. PMR involves actively tensing specific muscle groups in your body for five to ten seconds before relaxing and moving on to the next muscle group. For example, you can start by making a fist with your right hand, followed by your right upper arm, your left hand and upper arm, your forehead and so on until you’ve worked through tensing and relaxing your entire body.
It helps you develop a better awareness of stress within your body
While intentionally tensing your muscles may sound like a weird way to relax, PMR helps you learn what your body’s supposed to feel like when you’re entirely at ease. If you suffer from anxiety or face high levels of stress in your day-to-day life, you may not even realise you’re holding tension in your body, which is where PMR can come in handy.
With practise, you’ll eventually be able to cue the relaxed state brought on by PMR when you’re feeling tense and in turn, reduce the physical and mental problems associated with stress.
How else can you unwind and find a better balance between mind and body?
Like the sound of getting to know your body better but not sure if PMR’s your thing? Meditation is another great way of releasing tension and is often incorporated into yoga classes. This technique is similar to PMR, but instead of tensing your muscles first, you simply zero in on the areas that feel most tight and actively slacken them.
If you're not sure where or how to start, you can try our Yoga and Meditation online workouts MyLocker. Going through the flow and poses can help you identify tensed areas you might not be aware of, bring your attention to your breath and mind and aid in improving your flexibility and mobility.
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Go on, give it a shot. We're behind you.