A Different Form of Stress Relief

Updated: Mar 23, 2020

Over the past couple of weeks, I imagine we've all had to find small ways throughout each day to manage a bit more stress than normal.

The kids and I have been managing by participating in our neighborhood scavenger hunts - last Tuesday was shamrocks and Friday was silly faces.

We take a morning walk every day now, but on scavenger hunt days, we have the added fun of looking for the theme item taped up on our neighbors houses. One family posted on Facebook Tuesday that they found 98 shamrocks! We're easily distracted and didn't find nearly that many, but we had fun looking when we remembered to look.

That said, there's rain in the forecast for a couple of days early this week, and while the kids will probably be content playing inside or watching a movie, I'm going to need something to distract my mind and keep me from going cabin-fever-crazy.

I've tried deep breathing exercises and actually do them quite often, even sitting at my desk in the office (now the dining room table) from time to time, but I've never tried this -

Progressive muscular relaxation

This technique is best performed in a quiet place. You should be comfortably seated or stretched out on a firm mattress or mat. (I'm shooting for nap time.)

Progressive muscle relaxation focuses sequentially on the major muscle groups.

Tighten each muscle and maintain the contraction 20 seconds before slowly releasing it. As the muscle relaxes, concentrate on the release of tension and the sensation of relaxation. Start with your facial muscles, then work down the body.

The entire routine should take 12 to 15 minutes.


Wrinkle your forehead and arch your eyebrows. Hold; then relax.


Close your eyes tightly. Hold; then relax.


Wrinkle your nose and flare your nostrils. Hold; then relax.


Push your tongue firmly against the roof of your mouth. Hold; then relax.


Grimace. Hold; then relax.


Clench your jaws tightly. Hold; then relax.


Tense your neck by pulling your chin down to your chest. Hold; then relax.


Arch your back. Hold; then relax.


Breathe in as deeply as you can. Hold; then relax.


Tense your stomach muscles. Hold; then relax.

Buttocks and thighs

Tense your buttocks and thigh muscles. Hold; then relax.


Tense your biceps. Hold; then relax.

Forearms and hands

Tense your arms and clench your fists. Hold; then relax.


Press your feet down. Hold; then relax.

Ankles and feet

Pull your toes up. Hold; then relax.

Harvard Health Publishing recommends practicing it twice daily, expecting to master the technique and experience some relief of stress in about two weeks.

I may add some deep breathing tricks back in to ensure some stress relief immediately.

#movecolumbiacounty #movelifestyle

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