Mind/Body Connection One of the first steps in limiting the effects of stress on you body is to be aware of where you hold stress. This is easy for those of us that have an awareness of what is going on in our bodies, but for those of us that “live in our heads” it can be more difficult. An exercise that can help develop this connection is progressive muscular relaxation or PMR.

The idea is behind PMR is to tense up a group of muscles so that they are as tight and contracted as possible, hold them in a state of extreme tension for a few seconds, then relax the muscles to their previous state. Finally you consciously relax them again as much as you can.

You can apply PMR to any or all of the muscle groups in your body depending on whether you want to relax just a single area or your whole body.

Experiment with PMR by forming a fist, clenching your hand as tight as you can for a few seconds. Then relax your hand to its previous tension, and then consciously relax it again so that it is as loose as possible. You should feel deep relaxation in the muscles.

Although you might well be able to relax the muscle as far without the initial tensing, tensing the muscle helps to provide a starting point for the exercise, and helps to gauge the initial level of tension in the muscle.

As you practice this technique, you will find it easier to monitor your body, or be “in” your body. Your awareness of where you hold your stress (neck and shoulders? jaw? deep in your gut?) will grow and you will find yourself better able take steps to limit the effects of stress before they start. For more information on the mind/body connection, go to:

John Barnes:The Mind/Body Connection