This funny (albeit grainy) moment from the '90s sitcom, A Different World is a great reminder of how the ability to take care of ourselves is as accessible to us as our ability to, as the irritated therapist says, "Relax, relate, RELEASE!"
Progressive muscle relaxation is a stress-relief technique that creates an immediate difference in how we feel in our bodies.
I learned this technique from Micki Fine, a mindfulness teacher and Founder of Living Mindfully, at a conference for worn-out non-profit employees. She knew her audience, honey, because I needed that! I couldn't believe how instantly the process made my body feel. It surprised me to realize how much of my day I spent unnecessarily tensed up and feeling uncomfortable. That led me on a journey to understand the subconscious ways I struggle to maintain a sense of control, and how I can tap into true power.
By tensing and then releasing the muscles, we engage our mind-body connection. Accompanied by deep, rhythmic breathing, we get the following benefits:
increased relaxation (and all the happy hormones that flow)
decreased heart rate
lowered levels of cortisol
improved blood pressure
It's important to consider that this technique is not a substitute for medical treatment, rather, it is a way to add a wellness practice into your routine to give your body a break and a boost.
Try it for yourself with this Progressive Muscle Relaxation Script. I use it often.
For those of you who have a hard time "doing nothing," this technique is a good way to give your mind something to do while your body rests.
For others who need to process heartache, anger, or receiving difficult news, getting horizontal and trying this practice can help bring us into presence, awareness and a sense of feeling safe.
It's also a great way to get familiar with sensations, aches and pains that are occurring within the body to become curious about and understand what our bodies are telling us.
The punchline: Though it may seem counter-intuitive, slowing down and getting still may be a more efficient route through and out of what we are experiencing toward what's next for our lives.
Danielle Fanfair is a teacher, writer and speaker who helps high-impact professionals go from Confusion to Clarity about who they truly are, with a passion for well-being, diversity & inclusion, self-understanding and skills-building. Work with Danielle by clicking here.