RELAXING FOR BETTER HEALTH
Dr. Benedict Christopher Austria | April 26, 2017
Stress is an unavoidable facet of our daily lives. It can result from waiting for hours in traffic, trying to meet deadlines, or the burden of disease. Problems and difficulties continue to challenge the comfort we seek. Undue worries and fear obscure a clear future.
Stressors can be physical, psychological, emotional, or metabolic. They are usually combinations of any of those stated but are typically grouped as acute or chronic. Acute stress is short-lived, while chronic stress is prolonged and is often unrelenting. Acute stress is a normal response of the body to stressors and can cause a sudden increase in cortisol, blood volume, or fluid retention, but should last for only a short time—while the stressors are in play. In stark contrast, chronic stress, which endures over long periods, can contribute to:
In dealing with stress, a lot of treatment options are available: pharmaceutical options, like serotonin reuptake inhibitors; therapeutic exercises; and relaxation techniques.
This newsletter aims to give you an introduction to a relaxation method called “Jacobson’s relaxation technique” or Progressive Muscle Relaxation. Dr. Edmund Jacobson was an American physician and physiologist who practiced Internal Medicine and Psychiatry. Early in his career he wrote a book entitledYou Must Relax, in which he described how the rat race is causing tension, stress, and medical problems.
The technique is called Progressive Muscle Relaxation because:
The individual learns how to relax his muscles further after each minute
He learns to relax muscle groups one after the other while simultaneously relaxing other groups of muscles
After daily practice, he learns to get in a relaxed state naturally. So in order to get the most beneficial effects of the technique, he learns how to make it a habit.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation or Jacobson’s relaxation technique
Give yourself 15 to 20 minutes to do the technique. Look for a quiet place where you can lie down, just with the right temperature and ideally not much ambient noise.
This is a relaxed position. You can have a pillow under your head if that makes you more comfortable. Close your eyes. Take a few deep breaths. Inhale through your nose and slowly exhale through the mouth. Feel your abdomen slowly rising and falling with each breath.
The next step is to focus your attention on your feet and slowly curl your toes. Feel the tension on your toes and hold this for a few seconds, then let go. Focus on how your toes and feet are relaxed after letting go.
Gently pull your toes towards your knees, hold briefly then let go.
Push your heels towards the bed and feel tension behind your thighs, briefly hold and let go.
Bring your knees towards each other and feel the tension between your thighs, briefly hold and let go. Remember that each time you let go, your focus should be on how a relaxed muscle feels. You can also do this with your abdominals. Slowly tighten them and let go.
Gently make a fist and feel the tension in your forearms, hold briefly and let go.
Shrug or try to bring your shoulders to your ears, hold briefly and let go.
Bend your neck gently, feel the tension in your neck muscles, hold briefly and let go.
Frown gently, feel the tension in your forehead and slowly let go.
Spend a few moments feeling how the different parts of your body are in a relaxed state. You can end the session with a few light stretches and repeat the following day.
Learning how to relax (again) is not difficult. It is our nature to seek comfort; this is the way the body tells us to heal. Make relaxation a habit and see how you improve your health.
“Peace: it does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart.” -Unknown
If you have any questions or concerns regarding Progressive Muscle Relaxation, feel free to call Aegle Wellness Center at +632 737 0077