fbpx Progressive Muscle Relaxation | CCNM-ICC

Do you often find yourself tossing and turning in bed, unable to fall asleep due to stress or anxiety? If so, you're not alone and after a cancer diagnosis, sleep issues are very common, which can affect both our physical and mental well-being. If you're seeking a natural and effective way to improve your sleep and relieve stress/tension, progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) might be the solution for you. 

PMR is a technique that involves tensing and then relaxing muscle groups throughout the body to reduce physical tension and promote overall relaxation. As your body relaxes, your mind follows suit, making it easier to drift into a peaceful slumber. PMR also cultivates body awareness; this heightened awareness can help you identify and address areas of physical tension that you may have not been aware of, allowing you to release pent-up stress that may be interfering with sleep. With that said, it has been found that PMR can be a valuable tool for reducing stress, anxiety, and improving sleep quality. 

Below are a few simple steps on how to practice PMR. We recommend practicing it a couple times during the day, so that you have a better understanding of how it works before trying it at bedtime to help with sleep. 

  • Start by finding a quiet, comfortable space where you won't be disturbed. You can either sit in a comfortable chair or lie down on your back, whichever you find more relaxing. 
  • Begin with a few deep breaths to help center yourself and focus your attention on the present moment. 
  • Begin with your toes and work your way up through your body. Tense each muscle group for about 5-10 seconds and then release, paying close attention to the sensations of relaxation as you do so. Here's a general sequence you can follow: 
    • Toes 
    • Feet 
    • Calves 
    • Thighs 
    • Buttocks 
    • Abdomen 
    • Chest 
    • Back 
    • Shoulders 
    • Arms 
    • Hands 
    • Neck 
    • Face (scrunch your face tightly and then relax) 
  • As you progress through the muscle groups, try to visualize stress and tension leaving your body with each relaxation. You can imagine a warm wave washing over you, carrying away all your worries. 
  • Throughout the process, maintain slow, steady, and deep breathes. Deep breathes help to oxygenate your body and deepen the sense of relaxation. 
  • You can go through this sequence once or repeat it a few times, depending on how tense you feel. It's helpful to practice PMR regularly, even during the day, to help reduce overall stress levels. 

Please note that the information provided in this blog post is for informational purposes only and should not be considered as medical advice. It is essential to consult with your healthcare provider or a qualified professional before making any healthcare decisions or taking any actions based on the information presented here.