In today’s fast paced world, it can be difficult to make time to properly relax and restore our sense of calm and balance. Instant connectivity brings with it many advantages, but on the other hand, a glance at a news website or social media post can immediately spark feelings of unease, worry, anxiety, sadness, or fear.
According to the charity Mind, one in six adults in England report experiencing a common mental health problem such as depression and anxiety in any given week, yet less than half will seek treatment. However, we all hold within ourselves the ability to manage the symptoms of anxiety.
One of the simplest yet most powerful techniques for calming down an unsettled mind and a tense body is Progressive Muscle Relaxation, sometimes abbreviated to PMR. It is a process of systematically tensing and then relaxing each muscle group throughout the body in order to release tension and help you feel more grounded.
Don’t worry about following a rigid set of rules or feel as though you have to carry it out perfectly in order for it to work; PMR is very much a journey and you will probably evolve your technique as time goes on. Here are some guidelines to help you get started.
First of all, find a quiet space where you can lie or sit in a comfortable position. Put your phone on silent and make sure that you will not be interrupted for about 15 minutes. Allow yourself a few moments to connect body and mind with some deep regular breathing.
There is no need to wait until you are feeling anxious before practising PMR; in fact, it can be a good idea to try it when you are in a calmer state of mind at first, because you will be able to more easily carry it out when you really need to relax.
Start with your feet and move systematically up your body (as you become more practised, you may find that you wish to reverse the order and start with your head). When tensing your muscles, take care not to overdo it and cause yourself pain. The action should be deliberate but controlled.
Curl up your toes and hold them in this position for about five seconds before releasing them. Repeat the process, taking a deep breath in as you tense the muscles, and slowly exhaling as you release. It may help to visualise any worries flowing out of your body like water as you let go of the tension.
Work through each muscle group in your body, gradually tensing and releasing. When you reach your shoulders, shrug them up to your ears and then let go. Open your mouth wide and shut your eyes tightly. Raise your eyebrows as far as you can.
You should be able to feel an immediate difference in your mental and physical being when you have completed the exercise. With practice, you will be more attuned to the connection between your body and mind, and you will be able to use PMR techniques to help manage the first warning signs of anxiety.
Take a 15 minute break and practice this deep relaxation exercise
If you would like to find out more about anxiety therapy in Kensington, please get in touch with me today.