Progressive muscle relaxation against stress

Progressive Muscle Relaxation word cloud.

Our time is becoming increasingly fast-paced. In addition, there may be overtime at work, quarrels and problems in the family or circle of friends, numerous unscheduled appointments hobbies. All this everyday stress also leaves its mark physically. According to surveys, tension is one of the most common side effects of stress. Progressive muscle relaxation helps you to prevent these tensions and to cope well with even the greatest hustle and bustle.

What is progressive muscle relaxation?

Progressive muscle relaxation against stress is a relaxation method according to Jacobson, which is intended to permanently react better in stressful situations, to release tension in the muscles and to achieve emotional balance. The inventor and thus also the name giver of this anti-stress technique is the psychologist Edmund Jacobson. The US doctor discovered the technique in around 1930 and caused a worldwide sensation with the treatment of nervousness and anxiety. The basic idea of his therapy is based on the assumption that the human psyche can relax when the body is also at rest and relaxed. What is special about his theory is that it is easy to learn and the first successes can be seen after just a few weeks. Especially people who have problems relaxing during autogenic training and struggle with nervousness and tension can benefit from the treatment. In general, it demands a lot from the patient and requires full physical effort, but without exhausting oneself and sweating.

Progressive Muscle Relaxation

The anti-stress technique: this is how progressive muscle relaxation works against stress

In a few words, the basic idea can be summarized like this: In order to relax, you must first tense up. This is the reason for the assumption that muscles relax better when they have been tensed before. This is also the explanation for the name of the anti-stress technique. The word “progressive” translates as “progressing” and means that one muscle group after the other is tensed. Starting with the muscles in the hands, then in the arms, through the muscles of the face, to the neck, to the shoulders, the abdomen, the legs and the tops of the feet. With the anti-stress technique, the whole body is slowly tensed consciously step by step in a sitting or lying position according to a precisely specified plan, and is also consciously felt and perceived. The training is a form of strength training in which you should tense the muscles as tightly as is just bearable. The tension is then held for five to ten seconds and then released. This is followed by a break of about 30 seconds, during which you can feel the tension easing. Then you move on to the next muscle group.

If you are new to progressive muscle relaxation, you must first get your body used to it. It then takes longer for the tension to leave the muscles. Once from hands to feet usually takes between 20 and 30 minutes. If this anti-stress technique is performed regularly, the body can move from the tense state to the relaxed state much faster thanks to habituation.

Effect of progressive muscle relaxation

Progressive muscle relaxation against stress is recommended by numerous health insurance companies, therapists and doctors and is usually used for stress-related symptoms. The exercises of the anti-stress technique help to feel one’s own body better and to find out for oneself which muscle groups are most tense. The deep relaxation that occurs has a great influence on the autonomic nervous system and calms the blood pressure, metabolism, pulse and breathing, bringing them into a good balance. The technique is most often used in the following areas:

  • Irritable bowel complaints
  • nervousness
  • depression
  • sleep disorders
  • Tension headaches
  • migraine prevention
  • period pains
  • Back pain
  • Teeth grinding
  • concentration difficulties
  • phobias
  • anxiety states
  • neck tension

Progressive muscle relaxation against stress can also contribute to a general improvement in body awareness. Those who perform it regularly learn to listen better to their body and to perceive complaints before they occur. It also trains memory, concentration and intuition.

Relax under guidance

Progressive muscle relaxation against stress is so popular mainly because it is easy to learn. It does not require any equipment or prior knowledge. It can also be carried out at short notice in a state of acute stress and requires only a flat surface to sit on. Whether before the meeting in the office or before the exam at the university. This technique can be used almost anywhere and at any time. For beginners it is recommended to try the anti-stress technique first under introduction in a group. Numerous health centers and adult education centers offer such group courses. The instructor explains everything important and gives additional tips. In a gentle voice, he or she will gradually introduce the muscle groups, which you will then tense and relax one after the other. The expert instructor can check whether you are doing the tensioning correctly or whether you are perhaps exaggerating. He can also answer further questions. When you are done with the exercises, he will make sure that you stay longer in the relaxed phase. Alternatively, there are podcasts and CDs that guide you through the exercises, and then you can focus on their voices.

Progressive muscle relaxation against stress to go

You are in an acute stress situation, you have tension headaches, you feel sick and you don’t know what to do? You don’t have the CD with you and there is no trainer nearby? Then you can perform the anti-stress technique in any quiet room. With the following steps you can relieve acute tension in the short term and bring yourself back to an emotionally balanced state.

  1. sit down, make yourself comfortable and lean your back against the wall. Then place your feet on the floor in a loose and relaxed position. Close your eyes and try to breathe deeply in and out.
  2. Place your arms on your thighs and with each breath feel your abdomen rise and fall very slowly.
  3. make a fist with your left hand and feel every muscle in your arm and hand. Do not tense up, but maintain this state for about ten seconds.
  4. now release the tension and continue to puff evenly. Place your hand loosely and lightly on your thigh and enjoy the relaxation for 30 seconds. Focus fully on the feeling of relaxation.
  5. now switch to your right hand

These simple five steps may already help. If not, turn to other muscles of the body.

Progressive muscle relaxation against stress: success from when?

Already during the exercises in the framework of progressive muscle relaxation against stress the first changes begin. This is because the autonomic nervous system calms down and the pulse and breathing become calmer. So you feel relaxed very quickly. The more often these exercises are repeated, the deeper this pleasant state settles in the brain’s memory. Already after a few weeks the body switches to a pleasant relaxed state, even if you do only one exercise. Thanks to conditioning, even closing your eyes and tensing your hands can trigger this pleasant state. So you train a kind of button of your body, which you can press against stress.