Essay on Stress Management: Autogenic and Progressive Muscle Relaxation Techniques

Published: 2021/12/28
Number of words: 766

Stress management is important for daily living. The world presents endless challenges and barriers that cause problems for people to stress and obsess. While current problems are dominantly mental, the body maintains its flight-or-fight response to handling stress (Olpin & Hesson, 2016). The body tenses up when a threat has been identified and relaxes when it has passed. Problems such as lack of finances do not always pass quickly; hence the body remains in a state of stress instead of balance. Stress can be managed through two main methods, namely autogenics and progressive muscle relaxation (PMR).

Autogenics is a self-suggested method of deep relaxation aimed at bringing warmth and heaviness to the body (Olpin & Hesson, 2016). A simple suggestion prompts a physical reaction from the body where it expands blood vessels, accelerating blood flow. This brings the warm feeling experienced in autogenics. Stress triggers a flight or fight response causing the muscles to tense up in preparation. Relaxation of the muscles due to autogenic techniques brings the feeling of heaviness. Autogenic techniques are self-administered since they are simple to learn and practice.

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Autogenics work for relaxation through a specific sequence. Preparing a suitable environment before engaging helps to improve the efficiency of this method. One must first ensure they are free from external distractions like noise and focus only on internal processes. One’s state of mind should be motivated, controlled, and calm. They should not expect anything to happen. Additionally, one must remain in a specific position, such as lying down without excitement or movement. The sequence of autogenics begins with a focus on heaviness and warmth in arms and legs. This sensation is felt in the heart, too, as the person maintains controlled, slow breathing. A wave of coolness is experienced in the forehead as calmness and relaxation sweep through one’s body.

Autogenics bring a series of health-related benefits. Stress results in obsessive thoughts and triggers physical ailments in the body. Since autogenics relieve stress, the resulting illnesses from stress are eliminated as well. The elimination of stress from the body results in a lower heart rate, blood pressure, and tension as the body relaxes (Olpin & Hesson, 2016). Additionally, autogenics help deal with anxiety, post-traumatic disorders, phobias, insomnia, and migraines caused by obsessive stressful thoughts. Autogenics elevate the general mood of a person and consequently the quality of life. Cancer patients reported that their fighting spirit was rejuvenated by engaging in autogenics.

The second technique is progressive muscle relaxation which involves both the body and mind. It mainly involves tensing up a part of the body and slowly relaxing it. By doing so, the muscle returns to its natural state of balance. Muscles are controlled by nerve impulses which cause them to contract to generate heat, strength, and speed in stressful situations. If the threat does not pass, muscles remain in this state. Even in sleep, unconscious stressed thoughts cause muscle tension in the form of bruxism.

Just like autogenics, progressive relaxation offers numerous benefits to health through relaxation. It eliminates physical and mental ailments caused by stress such as insomnia, anxiety, headaches, and lower back pain. Moreover, it improves efficacy since a relaxed mind and body can work and perform better. Conditions such as depression and hypertension result from a stressed mind and are relieved by progressive muscle relaxation.

There are two types of progressive muscle relaxation (PMR), namely, active and passive (Olpin & Hesson, 2016). Active PMR takes on body relaxation. It involves tensing a group of muscles tightly for eight seconds then slowly releasing the tension for at least fifteen seconds. This is repeated while imagining tightness leaving the body with every exhale. One needs to be consciously aware of how relaxation feels.

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On the other hand, passive PMR focuses on the body and mind. It is considered a form of meditation as it takes an internal focus. One tune in to a specific part of the body and tries to identify tension. It takes a detached non-judgmental evaluation of the body part while paying attention to arising thoughts, for example, touching a scarred body part, remembering how the scar originated, and not feeling guilty or ashamed about it.

Autogenics and progressive muscle relaxation are important methods of stress management and relief. They bring various health benefits in dealing with physical, psychological, and mental conditions like migraines, post-traumatic disorder, and anxiety. It is important to manage stress as it relaxes the body and mind.


Olpin, M., & Hesson, M. (2016). Stress Management for Life: A Research-Based, Experiential Approach. Cengage Learning, 297-313.

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