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Progressive Muscle Relaxation

Learning to cope with stress is an important part of managing your weight. Uncontrolled stress can have many unhealthy side effects ? it may zap your energy, reduce your motivation, and increase your appetite, prompting you to relapse into unhealthy habits.

 

This week, we want to show you a stress-reduction technique called progressive muscle relaxation. It's a helpful tool to turn to when life's pressures mount. To begin, find a quiet place to be where you can comfortably lie or sit down and where you won't have any distractions. Then follow these steps:

 

Tense the muscles in your toes for five seconds, and then relax them for 10 to 30 seconds. Next, tense and relax your calves, then your thighs. Focus on the sensations of tensing and relaxing each group of muscles. Inhale as you contract, and exhale as you release.

 

Continue to work your way up the body, tensing and releasing the muscles in your buttocks, abdomen, and chest. Feel the pressures and stress draining away.

 

Next, tense and relax your fingers. Work your way up your arms, tensing and relaxing your forearms, biceps, and shoulders.

 

Finally, tense and release the muscles in your neck, jaw, face, and scalp. Let go of any remaining tension and rest in this state of complete relaxation for as long as you like. Focus on the experience of being completely comfortable and stress free.

 

As you practice this technique, your body responds by decreasing your heart rate, slowing your breathing, and lowering your blood pressure. Many people with insomnia find that practicing progressive muscle relaxation at night can help them fall asleep.

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