Part I: Anxiety Reducing Exercise – PMR:
PMR or Progressive Muscle Relaxation can be an anxiety reducing exercise for relieving tension and stress from the mind and body. Furthermore, it may also be a from of anxiety relief you’re unfamiliar with.
Within this post we’ll discuss PMR and it’s use as an anxiety reducing exercise.
Anxiety is not an abnormal mental process. In fact, many of us are faced with anxious moments throughout our daily lives. For example, anxiety can be felt before or after a school exam, prior to a work presentation, even on the sports field.
Treatment for anxiety range from psychotherapy, to support groups, medications, all the way to stress management techniques, such as meditation and other mindfulness practices.
How Does Anxiety Differ From Anxiety Disorders?
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, anxiety disorders involve anxiety that doesn’t go away. Consequently, the anxiety starts to effect our daily lives and many aspects within.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation:
Emphasis of this strategy is to alternate tension and relaxation in major muscle groups within the body.
One of the beauties of PMR is it’s ease of practice, even when incorporated into a somewhat busy day. Anyone and everyone can enjoy the benefits of this technique.
The basis behind this anxiety relieving technique is geared to reducing physical tension in major muscle groups. Consequently, (even though a physical act) leading to a state of mental calmness and relaxation for the mind as well.
In fact, this relaxation technique can also be utilized in short durations of panic attacks or bouts of nervousness and stress.
Theory Behind How PMR Works:
Within everyone’s lives, stress is experienced. Some are able to better cope with the side effects of stress then others. However, one way in which the body tends to respond to stress is with muscle tension.
This is where PMR can come into play. During PMR an individual first tenses a specific muscle or muscle group, while breathing in. Secondly, the individual purposefully relaxes that same muscle (or muscle group) while breathing out.
Hence, the theory and principle of PMR comes into play. The theory is simple, while your body is physically relaxed, you cannot feel anxious. As you systematically constrict or tense muscles, then follow that act with releasing the tension, you can remove stress from the body.
Progressive muscle relaxation was applied to one study in 130 Chinese patients with pulmonary arterial hypertension (“a debilitating and chronic illness”). Within the study it aimed to assess it’s effect on patient quality of life (QOL), specifically anxiety and depression.
In conclusion, noting that the PMR group as compared to the control group showed significant improvements in all three aspects (anxiety, depression & QOL)
Video On Progressive Muscle Relaxation
How to Perform Progressive Muscle Relaxation:
At any rate, PMR remains a techniques in which the more one practice, potentially the more significant the benefits.
How exactly does an individual perform progressive muscle relaxation?
Lets Get Started!
Like other relaxation exercises to reduce anxiety and stress, PMR may take some time to perfect.
A reoccurring theme in trying to reduce physical tension and getting to a healthier, more relaxed state of mind, is focusing on breathing, while performing the act.
Positioning. While engaging in PMR, it’s best to get into a comfortable position. There’s no exact rules. You can be standing, seated, even lying down (like on a yoga mat).
Breath. If possible, find a quiet space. Remain as comfortable as possible.
Let’s talk about your breathe!
Generally, you’ll want to start by inhaling through your nose, and then exhaling through your mouth. It’s always good to start with a few breath cycles to relax the body & mind, prior to beginning.
Once your breathing is controlled, take a large breath in, squeeze the first muscle group for 5 seconds.
(Tip: One of the more difficult aspects of PMR is making sure to keep other muscle groups relaxed, the goal is to systematically focus on one muscle group at a time).
Make sure to provide significant tension, but without hurting yourself or causing pain.
The muscle or group of muscles you begin with may be important. Sometimes, beginning from the top-down works best, as you can create a better flow.
Alternatively, you could begin at the feet and work upwards.
Breath out. After 5-10 seconds of tension, breath out while simultaneously and completely, releasing tension in that muscle or muscle group.
Above all, the focus here is allowing yourself to feel the difference between the tension that you felt, as oppose to the relaxation you have in that muscle group, afterwards.
Relax. After completing one cycle, relax for 10-15 seconds. Some steps in this muscle relaxation therapy are different from person to person, but the concept is the same.
Continue with these steps throughout the entirety of the exercise.
Present. Once all the muscles groups have been relaxed, count backwards from 10. The aim is to bring yourself back to the present moment.
Hopefully this post has given you a simpler understanding of progressive muscle relaxation. This anxiety reducing exercise, can be another great tool in your arsenal in times of anxiety and stress.
Thanks for stopping by, we hope to have you again soon! Be sure to share your experience with PMR and any other relaxation techniques you’ve tried!