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How Progressive Muscle Relaxation Can Help You Unwind

by Dasha Romanowski on Monday 5 August 2019


Take a deep breath and think about how your body’s feeling right now. Are your teeth clenched? Maybe your shoulders are tense? Or your neck feels sore?

In today’s busy world, stress can sneak up on you and wreak havoc on your body and mind. A few common effects of stress include headaches, fatigue, an upset stomach, trouble sleeping, anxiety and angry outbursts – not fun, right?

It’s important to recognise the symptoms of stress and nip them in the bud before they turn into more severe health issues. A fantastic way of helping you identify the difference between tension and relaxation is through a technique called progressive muscle relaxation (PMR).

What is progressive muscle relaxation aka body scan?

Progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) is an anxiety reduction method that’s been around since the 1930s. PMR involves actively tensing specific muscle groups in your body for five to ten seconds before relaxing and moving on to the next muscle group. For example, you can start by making a fist with your right hand, followed by your right upper arm, your left hand and upper arm, your forehead and so on until you’ve worked through tensing and relaxing your entire body.

It helps you develop a better awareness of stress within your body

While intentionally tensing your muscles may sound like a weird way to relax, PMR helps you learn what your body’s supposed to feel like when you’re entirely at ease. If you suffer from anxiety or face high levels of stress in your day-to-day life, you may not even realise you’re holding tension in your body, which is where PMR can come in handy.

With practise, you’ll eventually be able to cue the relaxed state brought on by PMR when you’re feeling tense and in turn, reduce the physical and mental problems associated with stress.

How else can you unwind and find a better balance between mind and body?

Like the sound of getting to know your body better but not sure if PMR’s your thing? Meditation is another great way of releasing tension and is often incorporated into yoga classes. This technique is similar to PMR, but instead of tensing your muscles first, you simply zero in on the areas that feel most tight and actively slacken them.

Two classes offered at Virgin Active, Yin Yoga and Yoga Calm, teach you this practice using floor-based poses that bring your attention to your breath and mind – no sweat required! As well as helping you find your inner peace, calm yoga classes also aid in improving your flexibility and mobility, making for the ultimate self-care activity, regardless of whether you’re a beginner or a pro yogi.

Ready to find your chill? Take some time out from the daily grind and book in for a yoga class at Virgin Active to stretch, relax and restore. You can also make the most of our recovery and relaxation spaces, which include pools, saunas, spas, sleep pods and cafes offering nutritious snacks, shakes and meals.

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