How to relax mind? Progressive Muscle Relaxation
People who manage to calm the body can better cope with psychological stress. In some cases, processes that are thousands of years old help – but also new methods whose effectiveness has been scientifically proven
All people who regularly rest physically and mentally can switch off and, above all, consciously respond to their needs, well-armed against stress. And stress researchers agree that all of these skills can be systematically practiced and sharpened.
Because just as the body and mind react to stress, for example by accelerating the heartbeat or negative feelings arise, both also show reactions when the organism experiences relaxation:
The blood pressure drops – and positive thoughts arise. Therefore, relaxation should be part of our everyday life as well as tension. Many people find it helpful to be passive, for example, to be calmed down by massages. But when the stress gets out of hand, such simple means of relaxation are no longer enough. Then it is important to actively seek rest, to practice, and to intensify, just like when you strengthen a muscle through strength exercises. There are a number of different methods for doing this.
But not all have been scientifically researched, and not every variant of a particular technique is as effective as another. The guidelines of the statutory health insurance companies list three types of exercises that have been proven to have a relaxing effect and are therefore also paid for by the health insurers:
- • Progressive muscle relaxation,
- • Autogenic training,
- • Meditation.
Those who train these exercises regularly are able to reduce arousal in a targeted manner even in difficult everyday situations or can prevent stress from being shaken off.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation
“Perhaps there is no more common cure than rest,” wrote the American physiologist Edmund Jacobson, who in 1929 first published his method of voluntary muscle relaxation. Certain muscle groups were applied one to two minutes one after the other in order to loosen the tense muscle group for only three to four minutes.
In this way, all parts of the body are gradually tensed and relaxed, from the limbs to the trunk to the head. Simplified versions of Jacobson’s program are mostly taught today. But your goal is also to be able to record the degree of tension of individual muscles as precisely as possible.
Researchers have yet to prove whether muscle relaxation – as Jacobson postulates – actually influences the activity of the central nervous system. But studies show: Those who train with active muscle relaxation increase their long-term well-being, are less sensitive to pain, and react more calmly to stressful situations.
2. Autogenic training
In the 1920s, the German psychiatrist Johannes Heinrich Schultz observed that people can put themselves into a kind of trance without outside interference (autogenous) – a state in which they experience deep peace, warmth in the limbs and then feel refreshed. Then he developed exercises with which everyone can specifically influence their heart rate, regulate their breathing, and create a feeling of warmth.
The plan is always the same: the practitioner repeats sentences in his mind that is associated with a calming feeling, such as “the right hand is heavy” or “the heartbeats peacefully”.
Almost anyone can actually learn to bring about such physical changes. After just a few weeks of regular training, self-suggestion brings the desired effects for most of them: rest, warmth, and relaxation.
Work with confidence.
Almost all religions have techniques that help one to gain self-knowledge, expand consciousness, and explore the higher world in order to gain “enlightenment”. Relaxation is a prerequisite for these meditative processes. Hence, some methods have in addition to spiritual significance as well
Proven to deal with stress.
Indian hatha yoga and Chinese practices such as tai chi and qigong are recognized by health insurance companies. These three techniques combine mental immersion with speed, sometimes slow, sometimes fast, sometimes dynamic, sometimes focused. Studies show: Procedures can help to reduce and induce stress reactions in the long term
The body in a healthy balance of tension and relaxation.
All of these methods help you experience a sense of control. They create an awareness that nobody is helplessly exposed to everyday stressors and grievances
. Because it is important to feel your body more sensitively than normal perception, to observe thoughts, to feel emotions. And pay attention to the interplay between the environment and the interior. So that we not only feel an inexplicable discomfort but can see more clearly what exactly is causing pain or nausea, what is burning or tiredness.
Concept of mindfulness
Only in the last few decades has a term for this ability established itself: mindfulness. In a way, it’s a natural medicine that people use to prevent or relieve stress. Because it helps to recognize the first signs of stress and not to ignore it carelessly.
That is why scientists are deeply investigating how mindfulness can be strengthened in a targeted and sustainable manner. A method developed by the American scientist Jon Kabat-Zinn has proven to be particularly effective: mindfulness-based stress reduction. This standardized procedure is taught in hundreds of clinics and health centers in the USA and is also widely offered in Germany.
In courses lasting several weeks, the participants learn elements of traditional meditation techniques, such as becoming aware of the breath, relaxed observation of thoughts, or mindful perception of scents. Religious references are expressly waived. The focus is on actively practicing mindfulness
and deep relaxation. Studies have shown that in this way we can immediately strengthen our resistance to extreme stress.
How to relax mind? Progressive Muscle Relaxation