Welcome to our Wednesday series for anxious people who have an oversensitive alarm system, whose “danger scanner” is always on, and who need a little bit of self-care and positive emotional energy by mid-week (when the tanks are starting to approach depletion). Calm nature pictures are a great way to “nurture” our insecure selves and help us stay grounded and in the moment.
Yes, tighten and relax your butt muscles when you are feeling tense. You’ll get a workout and you’ll relieve some of your physical anxiety, win-win! I may be oversimplifying this, but what I am suggesting is an old anxiety management technique, called progressive muscle relaxation, which includes tensing and relaxing all of the muscles (not just the buttocks).
Muscle tension is one of the physical symptoms of anxiety and stress. Relaxing the muscles would become an obvious and welcomed intervention, however, one of the biggest challenges is that most of the time we don’t know when our body is getting tense or when we are crossing the threshold from productive stress to unproductive and harmful.
Which is why I recommend you practice this exercise daily, just like breathing. Check out the post on breathing here. Try doing both of these techniques together for maximum results! The best times to practice is when you are in the car stuck in traffic, laying on the couch, riding the elevator, typing on the computer or when you’re on the phone at work. If you’d like, you can make it a purposeful 2-3 minute break where you do this exercise every 1-2 hours during your daily routine. This also works great in the middle of an argument because it will relax the mind, focus it on something else other than the argument, and it will give you a chance to respond more appropriately rather than just react in self-defense mode.
SO, what do you actually do? You systematically tense particular muscle groups in your body.
And then you release the tension and notice how your muscles feel when you relax them. Pretty Simple!
You can follow the sequence below or create your own, or just focus on one group of muscles in each session. Hold the tightness or the stretch for 5-10 seconds and release. Do it 2-3 times per muscle group.
- Foot, curl your toes downward
- Lower leg, tighten your calf muscle by pulling toes towards you
- Entire leg, squeeze thigh muscles while doing above
- Hand, clench your fist
- Tighten your biceps by drawing your forearm up towards your shoulder and “make a muscle”, while clenching fist
- Buttocks, tighten by pulling your buttocks together
- Stomach, suck your stomach in
- Chest, tighten by taking a deep breath
- Neck and shoulders, raise your shoulders up to touch your ear
- Mouth, open your mouth wide enough to stretch the hinges of your jaw
Everyone experiences tension throughout the day. Give this exercise a try, see what happens, it can’t hurt and you may be surprised at the results if you do it daily.
Most of us struggle with some form of stress and anxiety and I know how negatively it can affect your life. This is why I’ve created a free bite-sized course that will help you manage your stress and anxiety so you can get back to living your life! Don’t wait until your next bad day, click here now and get the help you need!
ABOUT: Dr. Ruxandra LeMay is a private practice psychologist in Litchfield Park, Arizona with experience in family therapy, ADHD, stress and anxiety management, and executive coaching. She is the author of My Spouse Wants More Sex Than Me: The 2-Minute Solution For a Happier Marriage. Click HERE to check out her free resources on effective communication, emotional unavailability, intimacy, and anxiety management or join her at www.ruxandralemay.com for monthly blog posts.