Thursday, 4 October 2012

Clench, clench, clench!

© 2008 J Jakeman Creative Commons license 
Do you get tense when you're stressed or under pressure?

I often discover my shoulders up around my ears and full of knots and my fists clenched.

I have written before about some simple tricks I have used to help me loosen the knots.  Basically, just clenching tense muscles for a few seconds then relaxing and then clenching again before relaxing.

This has really helped me, so now I try to spend 5 minutes each day really relaxing my muscles.  I find it very helpful just before going to sleep.

I sit in a comfortable chair or lie down. Then working up from my feet I clench and relax each part of my body in turn. As I clench I breathe in and hold the breath for as long as it is comfortable and then let the breath out and as I breathe out I relax the muscles.

I start with my right leg. As I breath in I push my heel right out and my toes towards me.  As I breathe out I relax my leg and let it stay relaxed for a count of 20.  I notice immediately how relaxed it feels compared with my left leg.  

Then I do the same with my left leg, breathing in and clenching then breathing out and relaxing and staying relaxed for a count of 20.

Next I do my bottom.  Clenching as tight as I can as I breathe in.  Then relaxing as I breathe out.

Then I move onto my right arm.  Clenching my arm and fist tight, then relaxing for a count of 20. Again, I can really notice the difference between my right and left arm. Then the same for my left arm. Breathing in and clenching arm and fist, then relaxing.

Finally, I scrunch up the whole of my face as I breathe in. Then let it all relax as I breathe out.

If I do this before I go to sleep, I feel really relaxed in the morning which is a great way to start the day.

How do you like to relax?

Note to self: Notice how good it feels when you're muscles are relaxed
Did you know? When our muscles are tense our bodies release stress hormones that make our hearts beat faster and reduce our digestive function.

*If you have any history of serious injury, back problems or muscle spasms consult your doctor before trying this type of exercise which is usually known as Progressive Muscle Relaxation PMR

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