Moderate to high levels of stress over time affects our health and quality of life. Stress is a factor in health symptoms and conditions such as heart disease, glycemic control, weight management, immune system functioning, and all types of pain. It can affect moods, behaviors, attention and concentration, and performance related outcomes. When we are stressed and not well, we aren’t able to participate in our daily lives as we would like.
In the early 1900s, Drs. Edmund Jacobsen and Joseph Wolpe introduced, practiced, and researched progressive muscle relaxation, or PMR. PMR is a practice that involves tensing and relaxing various muscles in the body for extended periods. This technique is commonly used as a foundational element of anxiety and panic attack treatments. I have also seen and used progressive muscle relaxation to treat clients with chronic pain management, insomnia, and managing performance related anxieties. It would seem like the use of relaxation techniques would cause one to be physically and cognitively sluggish. To the contrary, I think regular practice can result in improved focus and stress management, which can boost performance anywhere from the board room to the playing field. Unlike hypnosis or mindfulness meditation, progressive muscle relaxation trains you how to relax your body and has some relation to autogenic training and biofeedback.
I commonly use progressive muscle relaxation as a technique with my clients. They comment how it helps them to feel calmer, more relaxed, and even drowsy. This type of active relaxation works well with persons who tend to be restless or distractible. Progressive muscle relaxation typically includes muscle groups from the entire body from head to toe. Use of white noise or relaxing music can be a nice addition. Relaxation training can be done in person or via teletherapy with the same benefit. In this blog’s recording, I focused on PMR for the face, neck, shoulders, and upper back, as these are areas that are commonly tense.
If you are interested in learning more about ways to manage stress, anxiety, or other emotions, please call or email me.
<3 Be well!
All blog posts from Dr. Soo Hoo are provided for educational and informational purposes only. As Dr. Soo Hoo is a licensed clinical and health psychologist, we must make it clear that nothing on the blog is intended to constitute medical or psychological advice, consultation, recommendation, diagnosis, or treatment. If you are concerned about your health, please seek appropriate care in your area.