Panic Disorder 411

Recovery From Panic Disorder & Alcoholism


How to do Progressive Muscle Relaxation - Text

Progressive muscle relaxation is an exercise that reduces stress and anxiety in your body by having you slowly tense and then relax each muscle. This exercise can provide an immediate feeling of relaxation, but it's best to practice frequently. With experience, you will become more aware of when you're experiencing tension, and you will have the skills to help you relax.

During this exercise, each muscle should be tense, but not to the point of strain. If you have any injuries or pain, you can skip the affected area. Pay special attention to the feeling of releasing tension in each muscle and the resulting feeling of relaxation. Let's begin.

Sit back or lie down in a comfortable position. Shut your eyes if you're comfortable doing so. Begin by taking a deep breath and noticing the feeling of air filling your lungs. Hold your breath for a few seconds. Release the breath slowly and let the tension leave your body. Take in another deep breath and hold it. Again, slowly release the air. Even slower now, take another breath. Fill your lungs and hold the air. Slowly release the breath and imagine the feeling of tension leaving your body. Continue breathing slowly throughout this exercise.

Try to focus on the feeling of air filling and leaving your lungs. It will be normal for your mind to wander. When it does, do your best to bring it back to the moment. Now, move your attention to your feet. Begin to tense your feet by curling your toes and the arch of your foot. Hold on to the tension and notice what it feels like. Release the tension in your foot . Notice the new feeling of relaxation.

Next, begin to focus on your lower leg. Tense the muscles in your calves. Hold them tightly and pay attention to the feeling of tension. Release the tension from your lower legs. Again, notice the feeling of relaxation. Remember to continue taking deep breaths.

Next, tense the muscles of your upper leg and pelvis. You can do this by tightly squeezing your thighs together. Make sure you feel tenseness without going to the point of strain. And release, feel the tension leave your muscles.

Begin to tense your stomach and chest. You can do this by sucking your stomach in. Squeeze harder and hold the tension. Release the tension. Allow your body to go limp. Let yourself notice the feeling of relaxation.

Continue taking deep breaths. Breathe in slowly noticing air fill your lungs and hold it. Release the air slowly. Feel it leaving your lungs.

Next, tense the muscles in your back by bringing your shoulders together behind you. Hold them tightly. Tense them as hard as you can without straining and keep holding.

Release the tension from your back. Feel the tension slowly leaving your body and the new feeling of relaxation taking its place. Notice how different your body feels when you allow it to relax.

Tense your arms all the way from your hands to your shoulders. Make a fist and squeeze all the way up your arm. Hold it. Release the tension from your arms and shoulders. Notice the feeling of relaxation in your fingers, hands, arms, and shoulders. Notice how your arms feel limp and at ease.

Move up to your neck and your head. Tense your face and neck by distorting the muscles around your eyes and mouth. Release the tension and again notice the new feeling of relaxation.

Finally, tense your entire body: your feet, legs, stomach, chest, arms, head, and neck. Tense harder without straining. Hold on to the tension. Now release. Allow your whole body to go limp. Pay attention to the feeling of relaxation and how different it is from the feeling of tension. Continue taking deep breaths.

Begin to wake your body up by slowly moving your muscles. Adjust your arms and legs. Stretch your muscles and open your eyes when you're ready.

You've completed the progressive muscle relaxation exercise. Repeat this exercise daily to experience the ongoing benefits of relaxation. (Audio transcribed to text for educational and accessibility purposes.) Video created by "Therapist Aid."

THE ROAD TO FORT WORTH by Michael Jackson Smith: Very little was known about panic disorder when I had my first panic attack. There was no help available to teach me how to assuage the attacks, but I discovered that alcohol would dissolve my fear instantly. My website contains the kind of information that would have been a tremendous help to me in the early days of my illness as I searched for solutions for the panic disorder, agoraphobia, and alcoholism that incapacitated me. My book is the story of my journey into recovery. Read Chapter 8 | Top of Page

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