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The night before my big tennis match I again did my guided visualisation session, but this time I added a progressive muscle relaxation session to it as well. My old junior tennis coach would always tell me the benefits of progressive muscle relaxation, so from time to time I used these techniques as well when I felt like my muscles were stiffening up, or I felt some tension in certain parts of my body. The idea behind progressive muscle relaxation is that by tightening and releasing the major muscle groups of the body in an exaggerated fashion, you end up feeling more relaxed and at peace with yourself, and much less stressed and anxious then you otherwise would. Consciously exaggerating and releasing muscle tension also helps you learn to recognise when you are holding onto unnecessary muscular tension, so that you can use relaxation techniques to relieve this stress before it gets out of hand.
The technique involves applying tension to one muscle group at a time and then relaxing that muscle group, and eventually progressing slowly throughout all the muscle groups in your body to eventually bring a deep sense of calm and release of muscular tension. Be aware of any backaches, spasms or significant injuries and talk to a physiotherapist about starting a progressive muscle relaxation session if in fact you do suffer from an injury.
The best way to get started with PMR is by sitting in a chair with your back straight and head in perfect alignment with your spine. Plant your feet firmly on the floor and your hands are resting on your lap. Start from the bottom up with your feet and tighten each muscle group until you go all the way up to your head and back down all the way back to your feet again, tighten the muscle group for 15 to 20 seconds before you completely let go, then take 5 seconds before going to the next group of muscles, this should take about 12 to 15 minutes of your time.
I’ve found that progressive muscle relaxation comes with immediate benefits to lessening any extra tension in the body, which then contributes greatly to lessening any lingering anxiety levels one may be feeling. I can’t stress enough what an amazing difference i’ve felt since using progressive muscles relaxation on an almost daily basis, like anything you may be thinking ‘Daily Basis’ are you nuts! I barely have time to… well I was there as well and it gets easier. How often do you take time to give back to your mind and body? Progressive muscle relaxation could be EXACTLY what you need to strengthen your mental health, and give your body that much needed break it may be craving.