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Your Better Mental Wellbeing Podcast
Every Friday, GP and mental wellbeing expert Dr Neera Dholakia, and software developer and neuroscience researcher Soen Trueman, will help you discover how you can manage stress and build resilience through discussion and practical exercises, so that you can live a healthy, productive and meaningful life.
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Episode 5: Impactful 10: Progressive Muscle Relaxation

You can’t feel stressed and relaxed at the same time. Actively relaxing your muscles dissolves the tension in your body and calms your mind, making it easier to cope with whatever life throws at you. 

Dr Neera Dholakia will be guiding you through a practical session on deep muscle relaxation in this Episode 5 Impactful 10: Progressive Muscle Relaxation.

Your Better Mental Wellbeing is a weekly podcast helping you to manage stress and build resilience with easy evidence-based tools.

We're your hosts, Neera and Soen.

Dr Neera Dholakia is a GP for Boots Online Doctor and the NHS. She is an expert in mental wellbeing and has extensive experience designing mental health services whilst working for NHS England, Healthy London Partnership and mental health trusts. As well as promoting self-care, she also works to improve mental wellbeing in the workplace.

Soen Trueman is a full stack developer with Boots Online Doctor, specialising in graphics design, user experience, and user behaviour. Soen’s interests in behavioural analysis extends to psychology and further to neuroscience, which he is currently studying at Harvard University.

This week's tools:

This muscle relaxation will reduce the body’s stress reaction and so reduce your heart rate, your blood pressure, your breathing rate, and your startle reflex. And as your body feels less stressed, your thoughts will also be calmer, more logical and rational. By reducing muscle tension, you can also dial down pain that has developed as a result of built-up tension. This deep relaxation helps to relax your body and restore your mind into its calm, resting state. 

You move progressively through your whole body from one muscle group to the next, tensing and releasing. By focusing on the sensations of tension and relaxation, you learn how your body feels when your muscles are tense and relaxed, and which areas you might need to concentrate on more. You only need to tense to a moderate tension, avoiding discomfort or cramp. 

You can do this in the moment when you need it, or practise it regularly to build up its beneficial effect. Many people find it helps them to sleep too.

[00:56] Understanding the Benefits of Muscle Relaxation

[02:29] Guided Progressive Muscle Relaxation Exercise

[08:28] Final Relaxation

Join us next week when we discuss: Taming your Worries in Today's World

Find our more:

For transcripts visit our website: https://yourbettermentalwellbeing.show

For great health, lifestyle and wellbeing information visit: https://onlinedoctor.boots.com

The information in this podcast is not intended to replace your own GP or other doctor’s professional medical advice.

00:00/10:12
Read Full Episode Transcript
Neera

Do you want an easy, powerful way to ease built up stress? Actively relaxing your muscles dissolves the tension in your body and calms your mind, making it easier to cope with whatever life throws at you.

Hello, and a very warm welcome to you to this Impactful 10 episode of Your Better Mental Wellbeing. Today, I'll take you through Progressive Muscle Relaxation to help manage your stress and improve your resilience. I'm Dr. Neera Dholakia. I'm a GP for Boots Online Doctor and the NHS, and my expertise is in mental health and wellbeing. I'm really pleased to be guiding you through this practical session today.

I'm going to talk you through the straightforward progressive muscle relaxation. So find yourself somewhere comfortable to sit or lie down.

You can't feel stressed and relaxed at the same time, so you're going to focus on deep muscle relaxation. This will reduce your body's stress reaction, and so reduce your heart rate, your blood pressure, your breathing rate and your startle reflex. And as your body feels less stressed, your thoughts will also be calmer, more logical and rational. By reducing muscle tension, you can also dial down pain that has developed as a result of built up tension. This deep relaxation helps to relax your body and restore your mind into its calm, resting state.

Many of us do not know which of our muscles are chronically tense. With this progressive relaxation, you focus on the sensations of tension in one particular muscle group at a time. And then, when you release that tension, you focus on the sensations of relaxation in that same muscle group. You only need to tense to a moderate tension. You move progressively through your whole body, from one muscle group to the next, tensing and releasing, allowing yourself to relax deeper each time. And by doing this, you'll learn how your body feels when your muscles are tense and when they're relaxed, and which areas you might need to concentrate on more.

You can do this in the moment when you need it, or practice it regularly to build up its beneficial effect. Many people find it helps them to sleep too.

Okay, let's begin. Close your eyes if you'd like to. Start by deepening your breath, taking a few slow, deep breaths in and out.

Turn your attention to your right hand. Clench your fist. Hold that tension for 5 seconds. Then take a deep breath, exhale and let go of your fist, and keep letting go for a few more seconds.

Now bend your right arm at the elbow slightly and tense your upper arm, your biceps and triceps. Hold the tension for 5 seconds. Then take a deep breath, exhale and let your arm go. Let it become completely limp.

Now focus on your left arm. Clench your fist, bend your left arm at the elbow and tense your upper arm all at the same time. Notice the tension you feel, then exhale and let go. Release that tension instantly, letting your muscles become suddenly limp.

Now move up to your face. Wrinkle your forehead as tight as you can. Feel the tension in your forehead and scalp. Now release the tension, relax, and smooth it out. Scrunch up your eyes, scrub your face, frown, and clench your teeth. Really tighten those eyelids, hold that tension, and then release all those facial muscles. Release your jaw completely, with your lips slightly parted. Let the tension dissolve away.

Now roll your head slowly round on your neck, then slowly round the other way. Lower your chin to your chest, and then relax your neck back to its normal resting position. Shrug your shoulders, bringing your shoulders up towards your ears. Hold it,

then drop your shoulders back down, releasing the tension. Feel the relaxation spreading through your neck, your throat, and shoulders. Let go more and more.

Now take a deep breath in, let your lungs fill up completely and hold it for 5 seconds. Now exhale and let your chest become loose, letting your breath come freely and gently. Notice the tension draining out of your muscles with each exhalation, letting go a little bit more each time.

Next tighten your abdomen. By trying to push it in and out at the same time, then release. Now tense your back without straining. Focus on the tension in your lower back. Now relax, let the tension dissolve away.

Tighten your buttocks and your thighs. Then release and feel the difference. Relax deeper.

Lift your right leg slightly and point your toes downwards, tensing your leg and foot muscles. And hold it there. And as you release, let the tension go.

And now move to your left leg, lifting it slightly and pointing your toes downwards. Hold that tension and then let go.

Now scan your body for any remaining sensations of tension. And let go of them more, completely, tensing and releasing as many times as you need to.

Let go more and more. Continue to breathe slowly and deeply, your entire body is comfortably loose and relaxed, calm and rested.

Thank you so much for listening to this episode of Your Better Mental Wellbeing: Impactful 10. Join us next Friday for episode 6, it's all about worry and anxiety, and how we can deal with it better. And remember, to live your values, accept yourself, and let go.

About This Podcast
Your Hosts
Dr Neera Dholakia
Dr Neera is a GP and Clinical Lead for our Depression and Anxiety service. A safeguarding and mental health expert, she helps ensure services are both efficient and safe. As well as promoting self-care, she works to improve mental wellbeing in the workplace.
Soen Trueman
Soen is a full stack developer with Boots Online Doctor, specialising in graphics design, user experience, and user behaviour. Soen’s interests in behavioural analysis extends to psychology and further to neuroscience, which he is currently studying at Harvard University.
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The information in this podcast is not intended to replace your own GP or other doctor's professional medical advice.
Music credits: Main theme by AudioCoffee, Impactful 10 by Dream-Protocol, Jingle by Serge Quadrado Music