Progressive muscle relaxation

Why it can be effective for you
Amanda Prigel
Guest Writer

Stressed with the daily demands in your life? Anxious from having to juggle all of your responsibilities? Having trouble sleeping at night? Progressive muscle relaxation is a technique that can help alleviate these problems.
A healthy and natural alternative to taking prescription medication, progressive muscle relaxation is helpful in decreasing levels of worry and stress. According to Sheila Videbeck’s 2014 book “Psychiatric-Mental Health Nursing,” relaxation exercises, including progressive muscle relaxation, can be useful calming tools and are non-medical, albeit still therapeutic, ways to help ease anxiety symptoms.
According to data from the University of California at Irvine’s Health Education Center, progressive muscle relaxation techniques involve focusing on gradually tensing and then relaxing the different muscle groups in the body. This technique leads to an understanding of the difference between muscle tension and relaxation, and helps those practicing it to know of the physical sensations that both stress and relaxation can cause.
Progressive muscle relaxation helps people struggling with insomnia to relax enough to fall asleep. It also assists in decreasing symptoms, including headaches, cancer side-effects, high blood pressure, and digestive problems, according to the report.
Tamara Turney, a registered nurse and St. Clair County Community College professor of nursing, also notes that progressive muscle relaxation is often a more appealing alternative to anxiety medication which may not always be easy to obtain when needed and people often worry about negative reactions to medication.
“Progressive muscle relaxation has many benefits, is easy to learn and perform, is readily available and does not lead to addiction or financial stress,” Turney said. “Anyone of any culture, age, or socioeconomic level can be taught how to perform this technique.”
Gradually tensing, and then releasing, that nervous energy from each muscle group is a useful tool because it provides a peaceful refuge from the stresses of daily life. Often resulting in a deeply relaxed state, the process of progressive muscle relaxation is as revitalizing as it is easy to do, according to Turney.
“To have a sense of control over one’s body and the associated physiologic stress reactions can initiate a sense of peace and well-being,” Turney said. “This sense of peace and well-being can help a person see events in their world in a more positive versus negative way.”
According to Carrie Beck, a registered nurse and St. Clair County Community College professor of nursing, performing progressive muscle relaxation techniques can help lower anxiety, clear the mind and help one focus better and help those struggling with insomnia. “When practiced, this technique can help promote sleep for those who are having difficulty falling or staying asleep,” Beck said. “The immediate effects are an induced state of rest.”
According to Beck, this may help one build up emotional strength to be better able to take on life’s responsibilities and challenges.

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