You’re lying in bed, supposedly going to sleep. Only problem is your body’s like a hunk of steel (creasing the mattress). So much so, in fact, you can barely draw a breath. “Damn, another all-nighter,” you think. But who knows? Maybe you really can – loosen-up…
Always remember, the body will react to mind-direction, based in fact or imagination. It really doesn’t know the difference.
Sure, there are all sorts of potential remedies, working individually and in combo. Some work first-time, the success of others is the product of hours of practice.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation
Progressive muscle relaxation is a special remedy that’s always worked well for me. And the thing of it is, it’s a remedy that, indeed, can work the first-time, as well as producing even better results as its practiced.
So the cool thing is, you can use progressive muscle relaxation to secure relief in those rigid as steel moments – in a variety of situations. And its practice may well get rid of those moments altogether.
We’re just about to get into a script, which you can print, record, etc. for use. But, first, let’s handle some biz…
Throughout a session, you’ll be tensing and relaxing groups of muscles – 10 easy counts of tensing, followed by 10-15 counts of relaxing.
Now, it’s really important to focus upon how your muscles feel, especially comparing how they felt before the tensing and the level of relaxation after.
This will allow you to detect muscle tension on an ongoing basis and have the resources to do something about it when it presents.
With daily use of this exercise, you may find that certain groups of muscles are especially tension-prone. As you make these discoveries, you may want to give those muscles more attention, or work exclusively with them.
One more thing before you get started. Always remember, the body will react to mind-direction, based in fact or imagination. It really doesn’t know the difference.
Get yourself nice and comfortable. When you’re ready, close your eyes and take three slow, relaxed, and full abdominal breaths. Feel your upper abdomen slowly moving out and in. Now be still for just a bit.
Okay, let’s get started by focusing upon your fingers and hands. Clench your hands into fists as tightly as you can for 10 easy counts. Now, let them relax for 10-15 counts. Extend your fingers out for 10. And now relax them for 10-15.
As we move onto other muscle groups, use the very same 10 count tension and 10-15 count relax format.
So on to your biceps and triceps. Tense-up those biceps by lifting up your arms and “making a muscle,” keeping your fingers pointed to the ceiling – no fists. Relax. Now tense your triceps by lifting your arms in front of you, turning your hands inward so the tops of your hands face each other – again, no fists. And relax.
Let’s get to your shoulders. First, tense them by pulling them back. Relax. Now tense them by pushing them forward. And relax. Finally, tense them by raising them to the ceiling. Relax.
Now to your neck. Turn your head slowly to the right, keeping your shoulders straight and loose. Relax. Turn your head slowly to the left. Relax. Now, bring your chin into your chest. Relax. And tilt your head back as comfortably as it can go. Relax.
Let’s get your mouth and lips in on the act. Open your mouth as wide as you can. Relax. Purse your lips as tightly as possible. And relax.
Now your tongue. Open your mouth and extend your tongue out as far as you can. Relax. Take your tongue back toward your throat as far as it will go. Relax. Now, push your tongue against the roof of your mouth as hard as possible. Relax. And push your tongue downward to the bottom of your mouth. Relax.
How ’bout your eyes? After each of the tensings, make sure you relax your forehead and nose, in addition to your eyes. Okay, open your eyes as wide as you can. Relax. Now close your eyes as tightly as possible. Relax.
Intermission! Draw-in as deep an abdominal breath as you can – then inhale just a bit more. Now, exhale and breathe normally for about 15 counts. On the last of the breaths, exhale as much as you can – just a bit more. Now inhale and breathe normally for 15 counts.
Let’s work on your back. Leaving your shoulders at rest, arch your back by forcing your upper body forward and down. Relax. Do the opposite by arching your back as you push your upper body backward. And relax.
Okay, now to your fanny. Tighten-up those glutes as much as you can, actually raising your pelvis. Relax. Now, push your glutes downward. Relax.
For your thighs, extend your legs out and raise them approximately six inches, leaving your abdomen relaxed. Relax. Now, push your heels downward. And relax.
Let’s move to your upper abdomen, pulling it in as much as you can. Relax. Tense your abdomen as if you were about to take a punch. Relax.
Finally, to your calves and feet. Without raising your legs, point your feet downward. Relax. Now, pull your feet back toward your body. Relax. Keeping your legs and feet still, point your toes downward. Relax. Now pull your toes upward and toward your body. And relax.
And there you have it – great job! Now, as you did at the beginning, take at least three slow, relaxed, and full abdominal breaths – more, if you’d like. When you’re finished, just remain still for a bit and – yes – relax.
And when you’re ready, get on with your life-routine.
This will work. Use it for daily relaxation purposes, to provide a sense of calm before or during a stressful activity or event, as an intro to practicing visualization/guided imagery and positive self-input techniques – and to loosen-up if you’re lying in bed rigid as steel.
(Hey, before you put this into practice, please check things out with your physician if you have a history of physical injury, skeletal or muscular issues, neck or back problems, etc.)
Time to Move On
If you’re enduring any measure of depression, anxiety, bipolarity, or stress, you’re going to experience physical tension. I mean, it’s inevitable.
So why not learn how to loosen-up when you’re rigid as steel?
Like a very wise man told me many moons ago, “You don’t have to live like that anymore.”
Plenty of learning to be had in hundreds of Chipur articles. Go ahead, peruse the titles.