"There are no second acts in American lives." ( F. Scott Fitzgerald )
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6 steps to productive daydreaming – Part III - Progressive relaxation

By Tessa Ivascu | Section(s): GET... , , | Add Your comment 1 comments

As mentioned in Part I and Part II of this Productive Daydreaming Series, progressive relaxation is a simple technique of stress management you can perform without the help of a trainer. When included in a planned daydreaming session, it helps you to rid your body of tension and it prepares your mind to travel to the imaginary setting of your daydream.

Tense and relax : a two-step cycle
This universally known relaxation method* consists in deliberately a) tensing then b) relaxing muscle groups (see pull quote) in a prescribed sequence. Choose the sequence that best suits you (see examples below) and proceed as follow :

Muscle Groups :
Group I:
Hands and forearms
Group II:
Forehead and face, neck and throat
Group III:
Chest, shoulders, back and stomach
Group IV:
Thighs, hips, calves and feet

1. Lean back in a comfortable chair, as described in Part II, Step 1. Take off your shoes, loosen your clothes and place your hands on your lap.

2. Inhale and tense up the muscles.

3. Hold it for about 8 seconds.

4. Let go as you simultaneously exhale

5. Focus on the difference between tension and relaxation.

Two popular sequences
In one of the most popular sequences you tense-relax muscle in this order :

  • Start with your hands
  • Move up to your arms, shoulders, neck, head
  • Move down your torso and legs
  • Finish with your feet.
If you are familiar with progressive relaxation sequences, please share your favorite one in the Comments. My favorite sequence goes like this :

  • Start with your feet
    (tense then release your : right foot > right lower leg and foot > entire right leg > left foot > left lower leg and foot > entire left leg)
  • Move to your hands
    (tense then release your : right hand > right forearm and hand > entire right arm > left hand > left forearm and hand > entire left arm)
  • Move to your abdomen
  • Move up to your chest, shoulders and neck
    (neck : tense the right side by looking to the left > release while looking forward > tense the left side by looking to the right > release > bring your chin towards your chest > bring your neck up).
  • Finish with your face
    (clench your jaws + tighten your lips + furrow your eye brows > release).
In the beginning, you will probably not be able to tense just one muscle while allowing all the other muscles of your body to relax. But with practice, you will learn to discern the fine muscles. This is why it is very important to focus on the difference between tension and relaxation.
As I mentioned before, you don’t need a personal trainer in order to practice progressive relaxation. But you should start by consulting with your physician if you have a history of back problems or muscle spasms.

Keep in mind that progressive relaxation not only prepares the ground for purposeful daydreaming. You can practice it on a daily basis or whenever you need to reduce stress, anxiety, blood pressure. If you suffer from insomnia, you should include it in your sleep hygiene.

* Developed by American physician Edmund Jacobson in the 1920s.

I deeply enjoyed writing this 3-part series about productive daydreaming. I hope you enjoyed reading it and that this method will help you to improve your productivity and reach your goals. I remember that at the end of one daydream I heard myself saying (in English) : "I hate working, I love doing". I have known it all along but it was the first time I really expressed it so flatly and unequivocally.

It really encouraged me to complete my goal : writing for people who are in the "second act" of their life, who decided to grow out of failure, express their dream and, finally, succeed in living their dream.

Yo can go back to :
Part I - Productive Daydreaming : Introduction.
Part II – Productive Daydreaming : Take the 6 Steps.

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