In previous articles, we have discussed how relaxation and meditation can be beneficial to you if you are a migraine sufferer. It helps reduce stress, takes your mind off your pain, and has an overall positive effect on your whole body.
Another mental skill that can improve your focus and give you an on-the-spot calming effect is Progressive Muscle Relaxation. Progressive muscle relaxation was developed by Edmund Jacobson in the 1920s, and been used since that time by physicians, physical therapists, counselors, psychologists, and coaches for many reasons. I actually do this type of relaxation myself and have found it to be one of the most effective for me.
This relaxation technique involves intentionally tightening and relaxing specific muscle groups. As migraineurs, most of us have specific areas in our body where we hold tension, stress and even the pain.
Here are a few effective ways to get the most benefit out of practicing progressive muscle relaxation:
• Find a dark, quiet, distraction-free environment
• Practice 3-4 times a week for about 10-15 minutes a day
• Recline or sit up straight
• Focus on your breathing; the sensations and feelings of each inhale and exhale.
• Systematically work your way through your muscle groups, tensing the muscle for about 5 seconds, and then relaxing the muscle for 10 seconds
• Concentrate on the different sensations of tension versus relaxation
• Exhale with the tension phase and inhale your breath through the relaxation portion
• Start with your facial muscles and work your way down — neck, shoulders/chest, each hand/arm, core, glutes, quads, calves, shins, ankles, and feet.
Some of benefits include:
• Mind and body awareness
• Regulates muscle tension/relaxation
• Stops racing thoughts
• Gives the ability to direct focus and maintain attention
• Gives an overall sense of relaxation
• Can help induce sleep
• Reduces and regulates anxiety and stress (literally drops cortisol levels)
• Manages and reduces symptoms of migraines, headaches and chronic pain
The great thing about progressive muscle relaxation is that if gives a significant calming effect, and let’s face it, if you suffer with migraines, it will not only help with migraine prevention but can also ease the tension and pain while you are having a migraine.
Why not take 45 minutes out of your week to develop this skill and see the calming, relaxing and stress-busting effect this can bring to you.