We learn to recognise the difference between tension and relaxation by first tensing and then relaxing muscles.
We need to understand what this difference feels like so that we can feel when we are becoming tense and do something about it - that is, learn how to relax.
Most people are not aware of what feeling relaxed is really like.
Practise the deep muscle relaxation for at least 20 minutes every day,
Use the following techniques to practice deep muscle relaxation:
1) Tense and relax each muscle or groups of muscles
2) As you relax each muscle group take a breath, and on the out breath say the word ‘ relax’ to yourself, allowing the tension to melt away.
3) If any of your muscles still do not feel relaxed, tense and relax them again, repeating the instruction above.
It is important and helpful for you to begin to notice which muscles you hold the most tension in when you are carrying out your daily activities. Make regular checks throughout the day to see if tension has built up in them and practise letting them go, using the out breath and saying the word ‘relax’ to yourself.
A List of Muscles and How to Tense Them
|Hands & Forearms||Make a fist|
|Biceps (muscle at front of upper arms)||Bend your arms at the elbows and try to touch your wrists to your shoulders
|Triceps (muscle at back of upper arms)||Straighten your arms as hard as you can|
|Shoulders||Shrug your shoulders up towards your ears|
|Upper back & Neck||Press your shoulder blades together and press your head backwards|
|Forehead||Raise your eyebrows as if surprised|
|Brow & Eyelids||Squeeze your eyes tightly shut|
|Jaw||Clench your teeth together|
|Tongue & Throat||Push your tongue hard against the roof of your mouth|
|Chest||Take a big deep breath and hold it|
|Hips & Lower back||Tense the muscles in your lower back and clench your buttocks|
|Stomach||Tense your stomach muscles|
|Legs||Straighten out your legs and point your feet away from you|
Dr. Claire Winchurst, Consultant Clinical Psychologist
Ms. Caroline Waterstone, Specialist Physiotherapist