There’s no denying meditation is an effective, proven method to help millions of individuals overcome stress and anxiety helping to find their inner peace. But what about the millions of people that meditation doesn’t work for?
Whether lack of time or lack of concentration, there are numerous reasons why meditation won’t work for everybody. There is an alternative, though it’s not as commonly spoken of (yet).
What is it?
Deep Muscle relaxation otherwise known as ‘progressive muscle relaxation’ – is a proven method of relaxation. There are numerous different areas in which deep muscle relaxation is beneficial, including helping with those who suffer with both physical and emotional pain. The method was originally explained by Edmund Jacobson in the 1930’s who claimed that mental calmness is linked with physical relaxation.
How does it help?
Depression and anxiety are both very common today, with over a quarter of the British population experiencing some type of mental health issue during their lifetime. This is due to an increase in different factors such as poor diets, lack of sleep and stress. Deep muscle relaxation can significantly reduce some symptoms linked with depression, anxiety, panic disorders, stress disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and Insomnia. Throughout history deep muscle relaxation has been reported to help those with insomnia, and a recent research study from America proved that deep muscle relaxation can be as powerful as taking a sedative, but without any of the side effects.
Where’s the research?
In a study on the technique and the benefits it holds for people affected by panic disorders, it was shown to reduce stress and anxiety in 38% of patients with no other treatment methods involved. It has also been found to help those with PTSD as the technique can relax your whole body at once, stopping those feelings of agitation and anxiety. It can even help with more severe mental health conditions, with a 2009 study finding that it reduced anxiety in those with acute schizophrenia.
Progressive muscle relaxation not only benefits those affected by mental illnesses, it has also been shown to reduce long term physical pain. According to breastcancer.org, the technique can actually reduce nausea and vomiting linked with cancer or cancer treatment. A meta-analysis and fifteen published controlled clinical trials (found on camcancer.org) all with patients undergoing treatments such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy were carried out. They proved in 14 out of 15 studies that deep muscle relaxation was an effective treatment in significantly reducing nausea, pain, anxiety and depression. It can also increase dopamine levels (which regulates movement) in Parkinson’s patients. It’s also been reported that deep muscle relaxation helps those who suffer from chronic headaches, high blood pressure and digestion issues.
What about the science?
The technique causes the ‘relaxation response’, which decreases your heart rate to a steady rate, slows and deepens your breathing, stabilizes blood pressure and relaxes muscles. This results in your body beginning the healing process, relaxing your muscles and your mind at once. Deep muscle relaxation is a really simple technique that can be practiced almost anywhere and only takes around 10 minutes to complete.
How can I try it?
It typically includes inhaling, contracting a specific muscle group, holding for 510 seconds and finally exhaling while releasing the muscle group. Doing this in a specific routine, focusing on certain muscle groups at a time, gives you the feeling of relaxation in both body and mind.
There is now an app called ‘Feel Stress Free’ created by Thrive Therapeutic Software – A group of UK trained psychiatrists, psychologists, and the games developer behind Tomb Raider. It is the only clinically proven app to aid in the prevention and resilience building of stress, depression and anxiety. The activities include deep muscle relaxation as well as meditation, deep breathing and other evidence based techniques.
With over a quarter of the British population experiencing some type of mental health issue during their lifetime, it is extremely important to explore new pro-active ways of looking after our emotional wellbeing. Using technology that is evidence based, clinically proven, and fits in around your lifestyle, could be the answer.
Thrive are kindly offering each of our readers a one month free trial to use ‘Feel Stress Free’, available on all Apple and Android devices, to try Deep Muscle Relaxation yourself. To give it a go, please visit www.thrive.uk.com/signup and create your account. Select ‘I have a coupon’, and enter XXXXXXXXXXX. Download the app to your device by searching for ‘Feel Stress Free’ by Thrive Therapeutic Software on your relevant app store, log in with your account details you’ve just created, and enjoy!