Progressive muscle relaxation - a cure for anxiety and stress

One of the most common side effects of a busy life is muscle relaxation. This can become a real nightmare - a pain that bothers

Progressive muscle relaxation - a cure for anxiety and stress
Progressive muscle relaxation - a cure for anxiety and stress

Stress has many effects on us. One of the most common side effects of a busy life is muscle relaxation. This can become a real nightmare - a pain that bothers us all day at work and prevents us from sleeping at night.

In fact, muscle tension is such a typical side effect of workload that we can ignore its message that stress levels are out of control. And it shouldn't be! Maintaining high stress levels can lead to an occupational problem such as burnout syndrome if we are not careful.

The good news is that we can simultaneously deal with muscle tension and reduce stress levels. The technique we can use to do this is called progressive muscle relaxation. It has proven its high effectiveness not only in relaxing the body, but also in reducing anxiety and many other problems - from insomnia to hypertension.

What is progressive muscle Relaxation?

New techniques are often promoted through the media that only work in certain cases - this is not one of them. This is actually a proven technique for regulating muscle tension, developed by the American doctor Edmund Jacobson in the early 1920s, so it has certainly been tested quite well! The technique involves tightening certain muscles and then relaxing them.

Why muscle tension occurs

When we are stressed, anxious or scared, our bodies become tense. In the past, when humans were more primitive, it was a fantastic process to help the body prepare for a life-threatening situation, such as an animal attack or violence from an enemy tribe. Our stress is more related to things like colleagues we don't like, the partner trying to change us, or family problems, illnesses, even financial misfortunes. Nothing is more frightening than a direct threat to our lives.

Yet your physique responds to stress in the same way as in the days of cavemen. Many individuals suffering from high levels of anxiety find that their muscles are stiff on a daily basis,

Because their bodies are constantly in a "terrible caveman" mode. Eventually, all this leads to a tense jaw, stiff shoulder, cramps and cramps, which further increase stress.

It turns out that progressive muscle relaxation could not have worked for our cave ancestors, but we certainly need it nowadays. The good news is that it's not hard to learn - you can actually follow the steps below and release stress from your body right now.

Preparation for progressive muscle relaxation

When you start practicing progressive muscle relaxation exercises, keep the following points in mind.

Physical injuries

If you have injuries and injuries that can cause muscle pain, consult your doctor before starting.

Choose your environment

Minimize the distraction of your five senses, turn off all appliances, find a secluded place and use soft lighting.

Make sure you are comfortable

Use a chair that comfortably wraps around your body, including your neck and head (you can lie down, but then risk falling asleep). Wear loose clothing and take off your shoes.

Internal mechanics

Avoid practicing after meals or after drinking alcohol.


There is no point in rushing to relax. Try to take at least 15 minutes to perform progressive muscle relaxation.

First steps in progressive muscle relaxation

  • After taking the time to find a suitable place for the purpose, slow down your breathing and give your body permission to relax.
  • Once you're ready to start, tense each muscle group described below by going through the list.

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The process is the same every time - you focus on the muscles, tense up and make sure that you can really feel the tension to the point where you almost feel discomfort or tremor, but not to the point of feeling severe pain.

Keep the muscles tense for about 5 seconds. Take a breath while holding the tension. (You may inadvertently tense the muscles surrounding the group in question, but still try to focus on the groups one by one.)

  • After 5 seconds of tension, relax the muscle, exhale and focus on keeping it calm for about 10 seconds. It may be helpful to reiterate that you are relaxing this muscle - sometimes the brain needs it to cooperate.
  • Once you have completed the order of relaxation, stay seated for a few minutes, enjoying the feeling of calm.

Sequence of muscle relaxation

  1. Right palm and forearm: Squeeze your palm into a fist.
  2. Right upper arm: Bend your right arm to the shoulder to tighten the biceps.
  3. Left hand and forearm: Squeeze your palm into a fist.
  4. Left upper arm: Squeeze your right arm to the shoulder.
  5. Forehead: Raise your eyebrows high, as if you are surprised by something. Then relax them.
  6. Eyes and cheeks: Close your eyes and squeeze your eyelids.
  7. Neck: Be careful when tensing these muscles. Lift your face up as if trying to see something in the sky to strain your neck.
  8. Shoulders: Raise your shoulders to touch your ears, trying to keep your head still.
  9. Shoulders on the back: Pull the shoulders back, letting the chest protrude forward.
  10. Chest and abdomen: Take a deep breath, fill your lungs and chest with air.
  11. Hips: Squeeze the muscles of the buttocks.
  12. Upper right leg: Tighten the thigh.
  13. Right calf: Do this slowly and carefully to avoid spasms. Stretch your legs forward and pull your toes toward you to stretch a muscle.
  14. Right foot: Tilt your toes down.
  15. Left upper leg: Repeat the movement of the right thigh.
  16. Left calf: Repeat the crucifixion.
  17. Left foot: Repeat as instructed for the right foot.

Don't have time? Here is the short version

If you are really stressed, but unfortunately have a very short period of time, you can only work with large muscle groups in a "progressive muscle relaxation session". These main groups are:

  • Lower limbs (feet and legs);
  • Abdomen and chest;
  • Arms, shoulders and neck;

It is best if you use the short version to do so when you already have experience with the long one.

When it comes to muscle tension, common practice means progress.

Teaching your body to respond differently to stress is like any training - the key is consistent practice. Only through practice can you get to know your muscles better - how they respond to tension and how you can relax them. In fact, progressive muscle relaxation helps you go through different muscle groups and relax, even when you don't feel very anxious. Practice in such moments will make your skill more effective for those in whom you have a strong need to calm down.