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Being too busy or stressed with school, work, relationships, or our families can put our bodies into overdrive. We may begin to feel tense, constantly fighting a feeling of claustrophobia or hyper-activity within our own bodies. Let’s take a second to change this by practicing some progressive muscle relaxation—a technique that utilizes steady breathing to release unwanted tension in the body. During this exercise, be sure to take care when tensing and relaxing your muscles. Remember not to exercise any body part in a way that may lead to injury.

Focus on your calves and thighs. First, slowly tense your calves and thighs for 5 seconds. Try and be mindful of any changes to your muscle tension, noting how that physical sensation feels. Then, take 3 diaphragmatic breaths, just as we did before, before letting go of any tension you may notice. Once again, focus your attention on how these muscles relax, how the release of tension feels, and how it relaxes and quiets the mind. Take in deep breaths as you do this, remaining present and grounded. How do you feel?

landscape
Experiencing nature can also help us release tension and practice mindfulness

Next, slowly tense the chest and back muscles for 5 seconds. Try and be mindful of any changes to your muscle tension, noting how that physical sensation feels. Then, take 3 diaphragmatic breaths before letting go of any tension. Once again, focus your attention on how your muscles relax. While the muscles relax, spend 10 seconds identifying the emotions that accompany this feeling of relaxation. Take in deep breaths as you do this, remaining present and grounded.

Now let’s move onto the arms. Slowly tense the hands and forearms for 5 seconds. Try and be mindful of any changes to your muscle tension, acknowledging any physical sensations. Then, take 3 abdominal breaths before letting go of any tension. Once again, focus your attention on how your muscles relax.

Finally, we’re going to gently take some tension out of the face. Slowly tense your facial muscles for 5 seconds. Try and be mindful of any changes to your muscle tension. Then, take 3 abdominal breaths before letting go of any tension you may notice. Once again, focus your attention on how your muscles relax. Keep thinking about how the release of tension feels. Keep savoring the calmness and inactivity of your mind.

Feel free to stay still after you complete this. Take all the time you need before you do some stretches. Once completed, you could choose to repeat the exercise or turn your attention to something else that will help you relax. You may return to this exercise anytime you can feel tension or stress affecting your physical state or peace of mind.

Written by Alejandro Serrano Saunders
Written by Alejandro Serrano Saunders

Alejandro is the Chief-Scientific Officer of uMore, the AI-powered mental well-being tracker.

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