Move over meditation

There’s no denying meditation is an effective, proven method to help millions of individuals overcome stress and anxiety whilst helping them to find their inner peace. But what about the millions of people that meditation doesn’t work for? Whether it be the lack of time or a style of thinking, there is no denying that meditation just doesn't work for everyone. 

There are other alternatives out there, though not many know of them. The most popular and the one which has accumulated the most evidence is progressive deep muscle relaxation. There are numerous different ways in which deep muscle relaxation is beneficial to ones body and mind. It can help those with both psychical and emotional pain. The method was originally explained by Edmund Jacobson in the 1930’s who demonstrated that the mind and body are deeply linked and that relaxation in the body brings calmness in the mind. The national institute for  health and care excellence recommends a related treatment, applied relaxation, as one of the high intensity interventions for anxiety disorders. Applied relaxation is an advanced form of progressive deep muscle relaxation developed by Lars-Göran Örst, professor of clinical psychology, in the 1970s. Meditation is not recommended in the guidance. 

Depression and anxiety are common conditions at present. Over a quarter of the British population will experience some type of mental health issue during their lifetime. This is due to factors such as stress and poor sleep. Deep muscle relaxation will significantly reduce some symptoms linked with depression, anxiety, panic disorders, stress disorders, PTSD, OCD and Insomnia.

Deep muscle relaxation can help with insomnia. There is a study that has found it as effective as sedatives when used before going to sleep but without the side effects. In a study for the technique and the benefits for one affected by panic disorder, it was shown to reduce stress and panic in 38% of patients with no other techniques involved. It has also been found to help those with PTSD where people affected tend to be more on edge and jumpy. The technique was shown to relax their entire body in time. A 2012 review of scientific studies found that is can effectively reduce anxiety in those with schizophrenia.

Progressive muscle relaxation also reduces physical long term pain. According to, the technique can actually reduce nausea, vomiting, anxiety and depression linked with cancer or treatment. A meta analysis and fifteen published controlled clinical trials (found on  among patients undergoing treatments such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy has shown that in 14 out of 15 studies reviewed progressive muscle relaxation was proven effective in significantly reducing nausea, pain, anxiety and depression.  It also helps those who suffer from chronic headaches, high blood pressure and digestion issues. It can also slightly increase dopamine levels (which regulates movement) in Parkinson’s patients.

The technique causes the ‘relaxation response’ which decreases your heart rate, slows and deepens your breathing, stabilises blood pressure, relaxes muscles and therefore results in your body beginning the healing process.

Deep muscle relaxation is a simple technique which can be carried out almost anywhere and usually only takes 10 minutes to complete. It typically includes breathing in, contracting a group of muscles, holding for 5-10 seconds and finally breathing out relaxing those muscles. There is now an app, ‘feel stress free’ created by Thrive therapeutic software, it is the only clinically proven app to reduce stress, depression and anxiety, the activities include deep muscle relaxation as well as meditation, deep breathing and other techniques.

To download the app, visit:


Written By Samantha Glass. 


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