If you’re faced with stress, emotional turmoil, or a challenging circumstance that is creating tension, you can use an old and incredibly popular technique known as Progressive Muscle Relaxation.
This is a technique where a practitioner first tightens certain muscles in the body and then releases them. The point is that after tightening your muscles in your neck and shoulders, for instance, you can then immediately feel how that part of the body feels when relaxed. The intentional tightening of your muscles at first helps the body then feel the opposite experience of relaxation. To develop a practice of relaxation using this technique, you can do this for various muscles group in your body for a period of at least 10 minutes a day.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation can help lower overall tension and stress levels and help you relax when you are feeling stressful or anxious. It can also help with reducing physical problems such as stomachaches, headaches, and pain. The technique was developed in the 1920’s by American physician Edmund Jacobson. It’s also a very popular way for people to find relaxation right in the middle of their day.
It’s common for recovering addicts and others to experience stress. In fact, it’s common to experience chronic stress while still struggling with an addiction. Often, during this time, relationships, work, homelessness, and other stressing life situations can prompt more drug use and worsen the addiction. Stress often compounds upon itself and life becomes a deteriorating spiral of destruction. There is frequently a considerable amount of stress for anyone struggling with addiction and often throughout the process of getting sober.
Fortunately, in recovery, there is the opportunity to become more and more aware of triggers, cravings, and emotions. One way to become more aware is to learn how to relax. And relaxing on a regular basis is essential for recovering addicts. In fact, learning how to relax is one of the key skills to learn in recovery. When we are relaxed, we are more receptive and responsive. We have a greater capacity for managing intense moments. For many people, stress gets high when emotions get intense. One important fact about stress reduction is that learning how to manage stress is exactly the same skill it takes to learning how to manage emotions.
If you’re early in your recovery, you might want to learn the skills that will help you relax on a regular basis, such as using Progressive Muscle Relaxation. Then, once you are familiar with the experience of relaxation, you’re more likely to call upon that experience in a stressful moment.
Remembering to relax can be challenging for those who are used to facing anxiety, fear, and stress. This is particularly true for those who have experienced trauma or neglect in their lives. When someone is used to stress and anxiety, they tend to respond to everything as though it’s a crisis. They tend to respond to life from a place of fear and tension. And it’s possible that this constant fear and tension contributed in some way to the development of an addiction.
However, Progressive Muscle Relaxation and other tools for relaxation are means to unwind that spiral of stress, and doing so on a regular basis can help create a stable, healthy, and happy life.
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