Category Archives: Counseling

Progressive Muscle Relaxation

Progressive muscle relaxation (PMR), also known as deep muscle relaxation, is a technique for reducing anxiety by alternately tensing and relaxing the muscles. This technique is based on the idea that one can reduce anxiety by learning how to relax the muscular tension.

To use this technique one has to use both body and mind. The muscle groups of the body are tensed for about 10 seconds and then relaxed for about 20 seconds in a sequential order. At the same time, the mind concentrates on the difference between the feelings of tension and relaxation. If the mind wonders to different thoughts, one just has to bring it back to how the body feels at that moment.

Practicing PMR teaches one how to relax and manage feelings of anxiety. Please see the script bellow as an example of PMR. Feel free to record yourself reading the script. Then play it back and follow it along.

Remember to always listen to your body and consult a physician if you are not sure you can safely perform those actions in the script.

Progressive Muscle Relaxation Script

Get comfortable on floor or in a chair and close your eyes. Breathe into your diaphragm deeply and slowly. In and Out. In and out.

We are going to begin with you arms. Curl your fingers into a tight fist, bend your elbow and flex the front and backs of your upper arm.

Count:

  • Hold it…5…4…Notice the sensation of tension…3… feel what it is like to be tense…2…1 Release.
  • Now relax. 10…let the tension flow out of your arms…9…8…7…notice how the burning of the tension is flowing out…6…5…4…3…notice how relaxed and loose your arms and hands feel…2…1.
  • Flex your fists and arms again. Hold it…5…4…3… feel what it is like to be tense…2…1 Release.
  • Now we are going to move on to the head and face. Scrunch up your face as tight as you can, flex all the muscles in your face. (Repeat the counts again. Hold for a 5 count relax for a 10 count. 2 repetitions for each body part.)
  • Next the neck. Bring you chin as low to your collarbone as possible. Leave your chin there but also push the back of your head back as much as possible. (Repeat the counts again. Hold for a 5 count relax for a 10 count. 2 repetitions for each body part.)
  • Next the shoulders. Try to touch your shoulder blades together. Now shrug your shoulder up so that you shoulders are near your ears. Make sure that your fingers; lower arms, upper arms, face, head and neck are all still relaxed. (Repeat the counts again. Hold for a 5 count relax for a 10 count. 2 repetitions for each body part.)
  • Not you’re going to tighten up your torso. Take in a deep breath and hold it. Tighten up your stomach muscles as though you are about to be punched. (The counts are faster because you are holding your breath. Repeat the counts again. Hold for a 5 count relax for a 10 count. 2 repetitions for each body part.)
  • Now we will do your legs. Lock your knees, flex your thighs and buttocks and point your toes. (Repeat the counts again. Hold for a 5 count relax for a 10 count. 2 repetitions for each body part.)
  • Once again breath deeply and slowly, relaxing your entire body. Make sure that your fingers; lower arms, upper arms, face, head, neck, shoulders, stomach, chest, and legs are all still relaxed.
  • Now imagine that you are in a safe place. Picture that place as clearly as you can. Look around yourself at this place. Listen to the sounds that are there. Pay attention to the smells; try to actually imagine the smells that would be there. Feel with you hands what this place is like.
  • I am going to count back from ten. With each count imagine that you are becoming more and more relaxed. 10…9…8…more relaxed…7…6…5…Even more relaxed…4…3…2…1
  • Enjoy where you are and open your eyes whenever you are ready.

Stress Management Basics

What is Stress?

Stress is a reaction to any change to which we have to adapt. It is a natural and important part of life. Stress becomes a problem when it is too much and/or for too long.

Too Many Demands on Energy and Resources over a Long Period of Time + High Expectations for your Performance and Deep Commitment to Your Work + Few Actions Taken to Replenish your Capacities = BURNOUT

How to Manage Stress?

We can cope with stress by reducing our perceived stress level or increasing our ability to cope with stress. Common stress management techniques are deep breathing, muscle relaxation, visualization and meditation (e.g. mindfulness).

Stress Management Quick Tip:

TO RELAX. Deep Breathing

Throughout the day, take “mini-breaks”. Sit down and get comfortable.
Slowly take in a deep breath counting to 3; hold it counting to 6; and then exhale very slowly counting to 6. See picture for correct inhaling and exhaling body mechanics. At the same time, let your shoulder muscles droop, concentrate only on your breathing. Concentrating only in your breathing and clearing your mind is the key to this exercise. By controlling your breathing you control your heart rate and your body’s response.

Because we tend to take shallow breaths when anxious, deep breathing can make people feel lightheaded because of the increased oxygen intake. Please make sure you remain seated for at least 1 minute before getting up.

Notice your anxiety cues and use deep breathing as soon as possible. The sooner you use this stress management technique, the easier it is to prevent your anxiety to escalate.

Deep breathing is a powerful technique that with practice and guidance can even help you stop a panic attack. As with most things, with daily practice it gets easier to successfully apply this technique.

Resource and Reference: Write Your Own Prescription for Stress by Kenneth B. Matheny.