Have you ever noticed your muscles tensing up when you’re feeling stressed or anxious? That’s because muscle tension is a common reaction to stress.
When we believe we’re in danger, our muscles will contract – it’s one of the ways our body tries to protect itself against pain and injury. However, if we experience this over a long period of time, it can cause discomfort and lead to aches and pain.
Learning to relax our muscles can help us to manage our stress and anxiety. Progressive muscle relaxation is a helpful technique you can use to relieve tension and lower your stress levels. During the practice, you focus in on different parts of your body, tensing and relaxing the muscles there.
It’s also a form of mindfulness as it requires you to be in the moment, focus your attention and tune into your senses. You can follow a guided practice or do it on your own.
Like all practices, it can take time to master. At the start, it may be hard to tune into your body and understand the different sensations you’re experiencing. But over time you can develop a greater awareness of your muscles, how they respond to tension and how to relax them.
Here are some tips to help you get started:
- Wear something comfortable
- Find a quiet space without distractions
- Get into a comfortable position
- Close your eyes and slow your breathing
- Say ‘relax’ as you relax your muscles