How To perform Deep Muscle Relaxation For Stress Management
Deep Muscle Relaxation is an efficient and effective method of dealing with Stress and Muscle Tension. Its also beneficial in Anxiety and related conditions, Clinical Depression, Chronic Daily Headache, Tension Headache, Migraine headache, Insomnia, Sleep Disorders, Chronic Pain, Fibromyalgia, Cervical Dystonia, Low Back Pain, Psychogenic Pain, Restless Leg Syndrome, Arthritic Pain, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Complex Regional Pain Syndrome etc.
Why you need to relax....
The psychological and psychiatric consequences of living under stress are evident in the rising number of people exhibiting symptoms of Depression. Anxiety Disorders are also being seen more frequently and at earlier ages. Headache and stiffness in the body, Irritability, agitation, anger, Conversion Disorders, Sleep Disturbances, Somatization Disorders, all have as their common denominator a single evil: STRESS.
In my opinion, the number one cause of morbidity and mortality in today's world isn't heart or lung disease; Its not breast cancer; Its stress. Stress paralyzes the immune system so that the body is more susceptible to infectious diseases. It raises the blood pressure. Stress even leads to increased Insulin secretion from the pancreas, which can burn-out the cells that make Insulin. It activates hormones that keep the body in the "fight-or-flight" mode. Recent studies show a co-relation between stress and allergies. Acidity in the stomach (Dyspepsia) and ulcers, heart attacks, strokes, even accidents are products of pathologies that may have their foundations in ongoing and severe stress. Aggravation of virtually all diseases is documented to be caused by stress. What stress does to the human body is more harmful than any external factor. You can't smash the windows of your own car and blame someone else for stealing it!
Stress is also a leading cause of chronic pain. Be it Chronic Headache or Chronic Muscle Pain, stressful lifestyle and a harried and harassed mind is almost always in the background of it. Exceptions would include Neurogenic pain, which is organic in nature and Arthritic pain. Still, Stress, Anxiety, worry and tension invariably are the catalysts to episodes of worsened disease and pain.
Deep Muscle Relaxation - Step by Step:
For best results, do the relaxation at bedtime. What you need is a quiet and peaceful surrounding and no external disturbance. You can do this twice a day too i.e if you don't have to think about chores and to-do lists during the day. You won't be able to relax your body very much if your mind is straining in the direction of an as-yet-undone job! Make your environment as pleasant and soothing as possible. A clean room, some fragrant candles or just a hint of perfume and dimmed lights, all can add to the experience. One problem I have seen a lot of tense and methodical people encounter, is that they get tense with the idea of relaxation. Which is, of course, counterproductive. Paying meticulous attention to every little detail is not a good idea for anxious folks. So, if you fall into that category, just start with the steps without any preparations, so that your frightened mind doesn't have a chance to catastrophize the outcome.
- Lie down flat on your back without a pillow or cushion supporting your head. Keep your arms at your sides in a neutral position (palm-up or palm facing the body) at an angle of about 30 degree. Extend your legs and keep a bit of distance between your feet, just enough to be comfortable (about a foot).
- Close your eyes and get used to the semi-darkness.
- Take 9 deep breaths. Inhale through your nose and exhale from the mouth. Slowly and with your attention on the the respiration and your diaphragm. Notice how your abdomen and chest move with each breath, and keep your focus there.
- Imagine a wave of relaxation rolling from your feet to your head and then back. Feel it. Do it as many times as it takes to get comfortable with the image.
- Now, starting from your toes, relax your body parts one by one. To do this, you will have to make verbal "suggestions" for your mind and body. Repeat in your head the words: "My toes are now relaxed" , then: "My feet are now relaxed", "my ankles are now relaxed" and so on to each part of your body. Try keeping the target area small. Do not try to relax whole of the legs or the trunk at once.
- Give more attention to the aching parts of the body, if any. If the suggestions don't seem to work on the first go. Repeat the words silently, while focusing on each and every part. It will come to you gradually, and grow on to you. With patience and regular repetition you will become perfect at the technique.
- Once a relaxed state is achieved, go on to the mind and empty it of thoughts. Its also a good time to do Guided Imagery. If you don't know any meditative procedures to apply on the mind, you can imagine a favorite natural scenery and take in all the details. Make the vision as real as possible for you. Feel the breeze, make the colors vivid, the sounds natural. This too will become better with practice.
- You can stay in this state as long as you like. This is your sanctuary, where you come to relax. Nothing of the world follows you here. Its a paradise that you have designed and created yourself. Enjoy the serenity that envelopes you in the relaxed and meditative world of your choosing.
- Slowly and gradually come out of the imagery first. I suggest that you create a door in your imagination through which you walk into and out of your haven. Once out of there, wriggle your toes and fingers, then move your hands and feet. Change your posture and open your eyes.
- Take a look at your surroundings, without naming the objects in your mind. Don't think. Just look and let the thoughts come gently and at a slow pace.
The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven - John Milton