PMR: A do-it-yourself guide
Even 20 minutes of practicing PMR or Progressive Muscle Relaxation has proven to yield beneficial results. Using this technique not only helps you relax, but also fosters a healthy mind in the long run. There are however, a few things to make note of before beginning:
- If you are feeling sad or low, it is better not to practice PMR
- It is important to find a quiet place, free of any distractions
- Try to wear comfortable clothes while using PMR
- Avoid eating right before or immediately after PMR
- Smoking and drinking before PMR can be detrimental to one’s health
- Those who have medical problems should first consult their physician before practicing PMR
PMR is a 2-step procedure
- Tense a muscle group for approximately 7 seconds and suddenly release the tension. Stay relaxed for 20 seconds. Repeat with the same muscle group.
- Inhale slowly while tensing the muscles, and exhale while relaxing them.
Move through your body, tensing and relaxing muscle groups one at a time, as shown in the figure:
- While performing PMR on the limbs, tense and relax the dominant limb first, then move on to the other limb
- For the feet, curl your toes downwards to tense and bring them back to their original position to relax, one leg at a time
- Tense your calf muscles by pulling them towards you, then release them, one leg at a time; repeat the same for your thigh muscles
- Try to pull your stomach inwards to your spine to tense the muscles and release it slowly to relax
- Take a deep breath to tense the chest and exhale to relax
- For your upper arms, draw the forearms towards your shoulders, while tensing the bicep muscles one hand at a time
- For your hands, clench your fingers hard to tense the muscles, one hand at a time
- Raise your shoulders to your ears to tense the neck
- To relax the face, start from the mouth. Open your mouth wide to stretch your jaw, close it back to relax
- Clench your eyelids shut to tense them; hold and then release to relax
- Raise your eyebrows as high as you can to tense your forehead muscles
- Once you master the relaxing and tensing of muscles, you can try deep relaxation
Deep relaxation is a technique where you imagine the muscles relaxing. Visualizing this process provides relaxation to the muscles, thereby, having a soothing effect on the mind and body.
It is generally advised to start relaxation from the face and work your way down to your feet. Getting to relax your body completely may take time. The more you practice, the better it will get.