In the context of the 21st century, stress has become one of the most widespread and contradictive notions in terms of human lifestyle. People from all around the world are trying to define the most beneficial ways to eradicate stress from their lives with the help of various coping mechanisms and techniques. However, the major issue of stress management lies in the fact that the matter itself is highly individual, and there is no way to define universally appropriate stress relief methods. Thus, in terms of the following presentation, the methods of meditation and progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) will be analyzed on the subject of their efficiency and relevance in today’s lifestyle context.
To begin with, it is of crucial importance to define both notions to estimate their implications in terms of the issue combating. Thus, according to Gutierrez et al. (2016), meditation is a strategy for emotional regulation and self-care that presupposes keeping one’s mind focused on a particular activity to train awareness and self-perception. Many people nowadays consider meditation to be one of the quickest and most efficient ways to take control over self and, hence, develop one’s emotional intelligence (EI). Another technique, called progressive muscle relaxation (PMR), implies a close correlation between one’s emotional state and muscle functioning. According to the researchers, the sequence of contracting and relaxing one’s muscles is an efficient way to reduce stress levels (Nalawade & Nikhade, 2016).
Speaking of meditation, the very process of the methodology, along with its frequency, is a highly individual matter that requires one’s effort calculation to anticipate positive procedure outcomes. Generally speaking, the process of meditation takes from 5 to 20 minutes every day regardless of location and any other additional materials. Moreover, many mobile applications include step-to-step instructions on how to make meditation a part of one’s daily routine. In most cases, people who practice meditation are to focus on their breath to learn how to stay in the moment without forcing themselves to think everything through all the time. As a result, people reduce emotional tension and focus on their presence in a certain setting and mindfulness. The process of PMR, in its turn, requires a sequence of exercises encompassing tension and relaxation of the face, arms, chest, and leg muscles that eventually lead to one’s calm breath.
Effects on the Body and Mind
Both of the techniques on stress reduction have a tremendous impact on one’s body and mind because stress could only be eradicated when both implications on the physical and mental state are handled. However, while meditation is mostly focused on developing mindfulness, PMR aims at reducing emotional stress through relieving muscular tension. Hence, their work patterns are extremely different in terms of the initial approach, whereas the end goal remains the same.
How Does It Work?
When it comes to meditation, stress relief is only one of the many positive outcomes the process has on the mind and body. To begin with, one of the major precedents to stress increase is the presence of brain extra tension caused by an extremely fast neurons flow. The patterns of the neuron exchange vary in terms of the extent to which people think in a certain situation, but most people tend to ignore the fact that they could learn how to manage them. Meditation is an important tool when trying to take control over one’s thoughts by allowing oneself to feel nothing but the fact of being alive. Furthermore, the development of meditation practice has a positive influence on such brain chemicals as serotonin, endorphins, melatonin, and growth hormones.
PMR, in its turn, has a significant impact on the human body, as it implies taking control over one’s muscles and tension. When people feel tension within their bodies, they inevitably feel an increased need for oxygen and, hence, feel exhausted. PMR, implying to release the aforementioned tension, helps people feel more energized and combat stressful situations in a healthy manner. Moreover, high-stress levels contribute to the development of various chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes. Muscle tension relief is aimed at reducing blood pressure and thus, decreasing the risk of health issues caused by stress.
To begin with, both meditation and PMR are extremely accessible in terms of practice frequency. The procedures are not time-consuming and do not require any additional settings to perform the technique. However, during meditation, many people need to listen to some calming sounds to focus on their bodies and breathing. In terms of strengths and weaknesses, it might be considered that while PMR is an extremely successful technique when it comes to instant response to a stressful situation, meditation is a better way of coping with stress in the long run.
One of the major weaknesses of meditation is related to the issue of the slow learning process, as people of the 21st century are not used to paying attention to their inner selves. Hence, sometimes individuals feel extremely vulnerable once they fail to meditate, causing even more stress for their self-esteem. I would use both of the techniques to reduce stress, as they are beneficial in their ways. Moreover, while practicing PMR, I would be able to excel in meditation, in the long run, to become more stress-resistant.
Taking everything into consideration, it might be concluded that almost any tool aimed at reducing stress is an asset in the context of the 21st century. However, some of the most beneficial and discussed techniques today are the notions of meditation and Jacobson’s technique of progressive muscle relaxation (PMR). In the course of the following paper, an attempt was made to analyze the aforementioned methods on the subject of their relevance. The results have shown that while having some major differences in the very approach to the issue, both of the techniques are extremely beneficial in terms of combating stress.
Gutierrez, D., Conley, A. H., & Young, M. (2016). Examining the effects of Jyoti meditation on stress and the moderating role of emotional intelligence. Counselor Education and Supervision, 55(2), 109-122.
Nalawade, T. C., & Nikhade, N. S. (2016). Effectiveness of Jacobson progressive muscle relaxation technique on depressive symptoms and quality of life enjoyment and satisfaction in community dwelling older adults. Indian J Basic Appl Med Res, 5, 448-52