I want to share a very simple and powerful relaxation technique with you. It is effective in two ways:
- Developing awareness for bodily stress. By tensing up all the muscles in our body and then relaxing them we explore the two extremes of full tension and complete relaxation of the muscles our body. This helps us to develop awareness for how it actually feels when our muscles are really relaxed.
- As an Emergency Tool. It is extremely effective if you are feeling really tense, worried, are having a challenging day or something threw you off. If you have only a few minutes to really relax and calm down before you need to move on – this technique is very strong and always delivers.
A lot of us go through the day holding a lot of tension in our body without knowing it. We’ve become accustomed to these tensions and often only notice the negative consequences of accumulated stress when it is too late (when we can’t fall asleep at night). By the way that is a situation where progressive muscle relaxation can work wonders! First mental tension manifests in our body and later this tension feeds back negatively into our mental and emotional state. You may well remember the last time you had really tense shoulders or a painful back. If we use tools like this one to release stress that has become physically manifest in our body then we can significantly increase our productivity and quality of life. We also become more pleasant company for others. Now if you watch my video you can see me going through the steps. You can also hear my voice change and get a little bit deeper and more relaxed. This tool is great for freeing up your voice from tension and nervousness before a presentation or speech and can give you better vocal projection. As the tissues in your body are relaxed they start to resonate with your voice and your voice becomes louder.
I’ll describe the process to you. Read through it once and then give it a try, it takes about 5 minutes at most. It’s not important that you follow everything to the letter, the main thing is that you go through all muscle groups one-by-one, tense up all muscles in that group, hold this tension for 10 seconds and then release and feel the relaxation for ten seconds. At the end you tense up all the muscles in your body (by adding the muscle groups in the same sequence) and then relax completely.
Start by tensing up all the muscles in your face. Eyebrows, lips, cheeks, Eyelids. Tense every little muscle you can find and then hold that tension for ten seconds. Now release the tension and relax your face completely. Again count to ten and feel the relaxation in your face.
Shoulders & Arms
Hands, upper arms, lower arms, shoulders, the back and front of your shoulders, on the inside – tense all muscles you can find. Now hold for 10 and then relax and feel the relaxation for 10 seconds.
Chest & Abdomen
Tense your chest on both sides, all of your abdomen all the way to the inside, see that you find every little muscle and tense it up. Again hold for 10 seconds and then let all tension go and feel the relief.
Upper back, lower back. Inside and outside – tense the whole breadth of your back. Hold for 10 and then relax and feel into the relaxation for 10 seconds.
Hips & Butt
Front, back and on the inside, all around your hip joint. Tense your bottom and every muscle you can find in that area. Now hold for 10 seconds, relax and really feel the relaxation.
Legs & Feet
Thighs, calves, around your knees, your feet and curl up your toes (carefully).
Now go through all the areas again broadly. Face, shoulders & arms, chest & abdomen, back, hips & butt, legs & feet. Tense up your whole body and hold the tension for 10 seconds. Then let it all go for the last time. Take a few minutes to feel into the deep relaxation and release in your body. Remember this state.
You can do this anytime you need a quick relaxation. You can also do it lying down. Over time it’s going to help you to develop awareness for how much tension there is in your body. Once you notice excess tension you can start relaxing it. This is going to make you a lot more productive and balanced. Commit to use it a few times in the coming days (do it once a day when you come home from work for example). This way you’ll actually store it to memory and it’s going to be available when you need it. You’ll know first-hand of its efficacy.