As part of my Relaxation Coach certification I did a training in Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR), a relaxation technique, which is especially suitable for people who find it difficult to relax or for those who easily fall asleep during relaxation exercises. This might sound contradictory at first, but I will explain further down why it isn’t. This weekend has yet again deepened my knowledge and understanding of stress and I learned another relaxation technique allowing me to offer a wide array of different techniques. I find it very important, because we are all different and different techniques work for different people.
PMR is a method evoking deep muscle relaxation and thereby a relaxation response by the mind as well. It was developed based on the premise that our muscles tense up when we are in a state of stress or anxiety. In turn muscle relaxation releases anxiety and evokes a relaxation response in our mind and body. Most of the time the underlying emotion of stress is anxiety. By tensing and then relaxing our muscles anxiety is being released and blocked and with that the underlying cause of stress eliminated.
As opposed to some other relaxation techniques, such as Autogenic Training, PMR requires the participant to stay active throughout the relaxation by progressively tensing and relaxing one muscle or muscle group after another. This means that participants have something to do throughout the relaxation, which is great for people who struggle with letting go of thoughts, find it difficult to sit still and relax in general. If you think of yourself as someone who ‘can’t relax’, Progressive Muscle Relaxation might be your relaxation technique.
Besides the relaxation PMR can also help you in learning the difference between being tense and feeling relaxed. This can help you in noticing when you are tensing up throughout the day and consciously relaxing those parts of your body. Most of us have certain areas in our body, which are tense most of the day or which we tense when we feel stressed. Common areas in the body are shoulders, the jaw, our face in general and for some it is the stomach. When we train ourselves to identify these areas we can consciously relax allowing ourselves let go of tenseness in the body and with that in the mind as well.
For some people it is difficult to relax and for others it is difficult to stay awake throughout a relaxation. Each person responds and reacts differently to stress. Some are so exhausted that they fall asleep immediately when they get the chance to relax. If you are sleep deprived it is definitely important to sleep, but in many cases a deep relaxation can revive you much more than sleep. Since you are actively participating in PMR it might help you stay awake and allow you to experience a deep relaxation and the benefits from it.
Another benefit of PMR, just like Autogenic Training or breathing exercises, is that it can easily be integrated into your daily live and with regular practice it does not take up much of your time. You can practice it lying down, but you can also practice it sitting.
I myself find it much easier to let go and find a deep state of relaxation during Autogenic Training. PMR takes me out of the relaxation each time I am tensing a muscle or muscle group. I however know many people for whom it is the exact opposite. If you have tried out a relaxation technique and did not manage to relax or maybe even got more agitated do not think that relaxation is not for you, but keep looking until you find a relaxation technique, which is suitable for you. There are so many different kinds of relaxation techniques out there and there is at least one, which will work for you.
Wishing you a relaxing weekend,