Progressive Muscle Relaxation

Progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) is a stress management technique that focuses on purposely tensing and then relaxing muscles as a form of removing tension from the body. The goal of PMR is to scan our entire body and systematically remove excess tension that can be left over from stress. During PMR, an individual will focus on specific muscle groups and go through two phases: a tensing, or tightening, phase and a relaxing phase. Typically, we focus on tensing a muscle on the deep inhale and then focus on relaxing, or letting go, during the deep exhale. Eventually with sustained practice, the goal is for an individual to notice tension in the body and be able to engage in the relaxing phase to remove the tension and stress.

Follow along to the video below to practice PMR. Remember to engage in deep breathing throughout! Never tense or tighten a muscle group to the point of pain. Additionally, avoid areas of the body with sustained injury or soreness. Enjoy!

By Matt Lewandowski

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction

Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) is a stress management technique that focuses on the present moment. The ultimate premise behind mindfulness practice and meditation is to consciously bring each moment into our awareness. One key emphasis of mindfulness is using a nonjudgmental awareness of our thoughts and emotions. There are a number of positive benefits to incorporating mindfulness into your life including improved psychological outcomes and improved cardiovascular health outcomes.

The following video is an excellent example of mindfulness practice. Follow along as you work to help relieve stress!

By Matt Lewandowski

Understanding and Managing Stress

Stress can play a significant role in negatively impacting an individual’s life. Physical and mental health approaches to stress management should be adopted to help reduce the negative effects of stress and improve overall health. The Healthy Lifestyle Center incorporates an interprofessional approach to helping individual’s take ownership and control of their health.  Stress is a normal response that occurs in the body when presented with a real or perceived threat.  Stress can be dangerous, however, when it interferes with the ability to live a normal life.  Typical symptoms of stress include exhaustion, loss of concentration, irritability, muscle tension, headaches, and ulcers.  Anxiety disorders are the most diagnosed mental illness worldwide. Additionally, the US, researchers have found that 39% of people are more anxious this year than last.  Further, 86% of their sample believe that our mental health affects our physical health.  It is important to address and manage stress to live a healthy life.

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Clinicians outline a few tips for helping to manage stress.  First, it is important to understand how you stress.  Do you experience more physical or mental symptoms? Where in your body do you carry your stress?  Second, we have to identify our sources of stress.  If we can identify the triggers or causes of stress, we can better approach positive ways of managing the stress.  Third, it is critical to learn our own stress signals.  When do we start noticing that we are experiencing stress?  This will help give us an idea of when it is appropriate to use different stress management techniques.  Finally, we need to recognize how we deal with stress and whether we use positive or negative coping strategies.  Negative coping strategies might include drinking alcohol, over eating, or staying in bed all day.  We want to work to identify positive coping strategies for deal with stress so we can promote a healthy life.

We can help manage stress by practicing and adopting healthy lifestyle behaviors. These include eating right, practicing good sleep hygiene, getting regular physical activity, taking appropriate medication, and practicing mindfulness-based stress reduction.  By adopting these healthy lifestyle behaviors, we can help manage our stress more efficiently and effectively as well as living a healthier life.  The Healthy Lifestyle Center can help by providing education on healthy lifestyle behaviors and can help teach and guide you through healthy stress management techniques.

By Matt Lewandowski

 

Sources: American Psychological Association, retrieved from http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/index.aspx; Brooks, M. (May 7, 2018). High anxiety in America: APA poll highlights nationwide worries. 

Retrieved from https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/896319?nlid=122308_3901&src=wnl_newsalrt_180508_MSCPEDIT&uac=27500FN&impID=1627683&faf=1; How Stress Affects The Body. Retrieved from: https://adrenalfatigue.org/stress-and-your-health/got-stress/stress-affects-body/