This technique involves systematically tensing and relaxing different muscle groups to gain an awareness of how tension and relaxation feel in the body. This should then make it easier to notice when we become tense and therefore more able to do something about it.
Technique 2 - Progressive muscle relaxation
- Get comfortable, take off your shoes and make sure your clothes are loose.
- Take a few minutes to slowly breathe in and out.
- Turn your attention to your right foot and focus on how it feels.
- Slowly tense the muscles in your foot as tightly as you can. Hold for a count of ten.
- Slowly release the foot, taking note of how it feels as the tension leaves the foot and it becomes limp.
- Stay in a relaxed state breathing deeply and slowly.
- Next focus your attention on your left foot. Follow the same sequence as for right foot.
- Continue tensing and relaxing your muscles moving slowly up the body (see below for recommended sequence) and trying hard to focus on one muscle group at a time.
Recommended sequence: 1 right foot, 2 left foot, 3 right calf, 4 left calf, 5 right thigh, 6 left thigh, 7 hips and buttocks, 8 abdomen, 9 chest, 10 back, 11 right arm and hand, 12 left arm and hand, 13 neck and shoulders, 14 face
TIP: if you are left handed you may wish to start with left side of body first
If you have a history of back problems, muscle spasms or other injuries, this technique may not be appropriate for you as tensing muscles may aggravate your condition. Instead try the body scan technique, which will be covered in our next blog.