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Combat stress with progressive muscle relaxation

By Janick Hickman, Mental Health Counselor, CHC

Janick Hickman, MS, is a mental health counselor with the Center for Hearing and Communication in Broward County, Florida.

Janick Hickman of CHC-FL is a mental heath counselor

Janick Hickman, Mental Health Counselor

What is stress? It is a feeling of emotional or physical tension. Stress can come about for a variety of reasons, negatively impacting our physiological, mental, and emotional states. Conditions such as muscle tension, insomnia, and anxiety may increase during times of stress.

The American Institute of Stress defines stress as “a condition or feeling experienced when a person perceives that demands exceed the personal and social resources the individual is able to mobilize.”

Discover benefits of PMR

During this pandemic crisis, stress may look like difficulty sleeping, fear and constant worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones, changes in eating patterns, increased irritability, and worsening of mental health conditions to name a few. Progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) is one method/strategy used to help combat stress, treat stress-related health problems and relieve tension.

PMR is a learned skill that targets muscle groups while you practice deep breathing and refocusing your mind. Progressive muscle relaxation can be done from a seated, standing or lying down position. If a quiet space free of distractions can be found, that is preferred. Remember to focus on your breathing and muscles during the exercise.

Click the video to be guided through the process.

Steps to get you started

If using the attached worksheet, the following steps will help you get started:

  1. Breathe in for 4 seconds while tensing the first muscle group.

  2. Breathe out, and completely relax the muscle group.

  3. Relax for 10 seconds before you breathe in again and tense the next muscle group.

PMR for children

Progressive muscle relaxation is not only for adults, but children as well. They too may be struggling with the adjustments and impact of this pandemic. Here’s 3-minute video, with captioning, to guide them through breathing and PMR exercises.

Click below to view PMR video for children

More information

For additional information and resources on coping skills during this difficult and unprecedented time, please click below to submit an inquiry to CHC in Florida or New York and we will direct it to the appropriate clinician who will get back to you.

Janick Hickman, MS, is a mental health counselor with the Center for Hearing and Communication in Broward County, Florida.

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