How often do you make things harder than they must or should be? My guess is more often than you realize. This week’s episode of #LiveWholeHealth is a progressive muscle relaxation to reduce stress and lighten your load.

Carrying too much baggage

We often carry stress like the extra weight that slows us down, takes up mental and physical energy, and distracts us from what we want to do. Sometimes this weight comes from anger over minor events (like being cut off in traffic), or as something more significant (like being abandoned by a family member). This anger can make us lash out when we feel stressed. For example, maybe you stayed up late worrying and then lost focus the next day during a job interview. Or perhaps you are tense for long periods of time and then too physically drained to work around the house.

Putting the suitcase down

An instructor demonstrated these concepts by walking into a group carrying two suitcases. When people entered the room, he couldn’t shake their hands, and when he needed a sip of water, he couldn’t get it. He pointed out that if anyone in the group asked for help, he couldn’t assist. “All of us are carrying baggage” he explained, “but that makes it much harder to meet people, help them out, and even take care of ourselves.” After dropping the suitcase and shaking someone’s hand, he continued: “It’s when we put down our baggage that we can become who we want to be.”

Where are you carrying the extra weight of stress? Is it physical, perhaps tense shoulders or a clenched jaw? Is it emotional, perhaps some irritation or worry?

This 9-minute video with Lamanda Blackman from the Central Arkansas VA Medical Center will guide you through the process of building and releasing tension, showing you how to let go of that extra weight and lightening the load.


Looking for more information on progressive muscle relaxation? Check out this information on the Veterans Health Library: Progressive Muscle Relaxation and Guided Imagery or this handout:

Do you want to practice more self-care, but don’t know where to start? Whole Health offers the support you need to make the changes you want. Start your self-care journey with the Circle of Health:

By Marc Castellani, Ph.D., NBC-HWC

Whole Health Education Program Lead for the VHA Office of Patient Centered Care and Cultural Transformation

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Published on Sep. 26, 2022

Estimated reading time is 2.1 min.

Views to date: 2,088

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