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Progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) is a deep relaxation technique that has been effectively used to manage and reduce certain types of emotional escalation. Such deep relaxation has proven to be highly effective at relieving symptoms that arise from several conditions, including anxiety, insomnia, stress, headaches, high blood pressure, and even cancer pain (Mackereth & Tomlinson, 2010; Kwekkeboom, Wanta, & Bumpus, 2008).
The technique of progressive muscle relaxation was described by Edmund Jacobson in the 1930s and is based upon his premise that mental calmness is a natural result of physical relaxation. Progressive muscle relaxation can be learned by nearly anyone and requires only 10 minutes to 20 minutes per day to practice.
* General information adapted from PositivePsychology and WebMD. Please note this is not a replacement for professional care. We recommend reaching out to your treatment providers for additional information and/or recommendations.
In a 2018 study from Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience and the Global Brain Health Institute at Trinity, it was shown that there is a neurological link between respiration and focus. The study showed that those who incorporated intentional and consistent breathing exercises affected the levels of noradrenaline in their brain, which is a natural chemical messenger released when we are challenged, focused, or emotionally aroused. When we are stressed, we produce too much, and when we are sluggish, we produce too little; those who practiced daily breathing techniques produced the sweet spot of noradrenaline and showed exceptional ability to focus.
What’s more, breathing exercises have been shown to improve symptoms of depression in addition to reducing the symptoms of anxiety. Many people have unintentionally become shallow breathers, which is a mindless breathing pattern where you inhale through the mouth, hold the breath, and take in less air. Long-term shallow breathing can actually keep the body in a cycle of stress, affecting everything from mental to physical health and even susceptibility to illness. While we shouldn’t stay in a prolonged state of controlled breath, starting the practice for a few moments per day can make you more conscious of your habits outside of the exercise.
* General information adapted from Headspace. Please note this is not a replacement for professional care. We recommend reaching out to your treatment providers for additional information and/or recommendations.