Progressive Muscle Relaxation
Progressive Muscle Relaxation
Physical tension leads to mental tension, which then leads to increased mental tension and so on.
By breaking this cycle and physically relaxing, mental relaxation can be achieved as well. Progressive muscle relaxation teaches people how to relax as well as how to become aware of unwanted muscle tension.
In this technique you are asked to alternately tense and then relax specific muscle groups.
The goal is for you to become aware of the difference between feelings of muscle tension and relaxation. Each muscle group is tensed for 5 to 7 seconds and then relaxed for 20 to 30 seconds, so that the difference between relaxation and tension can be experienced.
The procedure is repeated for each muscle group.
Before You Start
Find a quiet place where you will not be interrupted.
Make yourself comfortable - sit in a comfortable position or lie down. Loosen any tight clothing.
Relax - you may need to take a couple of minutes to breathe deeply and expel the tension in your body, as described in the deep breathing exercise.
Hands and forearms: clench your right fist, tighter and tighter, noticing how the tension feels. Keep it clenched for 5 to 7 seconds and then relax for 20 to 30 seconds. Feel the looseness in your right hand and notice how different this is from the tension. Repeat with your left fist and then both fists at once
Biceps: bend your elbows and bring your hands up to your shoulders, tensing your biceps as hard as you can. Relax and straighten out your arms. Feel the relaxation, feel the difference. Repeat
Head: wrinkle your forehead and frown. Notice the strain. Let your forehead become smooth again and feel the difference. Close your eyes and squeeze them tightly. Relax your eyes and let them remain closed. Repeat. Clench your jaw and bite down hard, noticing the tension. Relax. Repeat. Press your tongue against the roof of your mouth - feel the ache at the back of your mouth. Relax. Repeat
Neck: roll your head to the right and feel the stress in your neck, roll it to the left. Straighten your head and bring it forward, pressing your chin down towards your chest and feel the tension. Drop your shoulders and feel your neck, throat and shoulders relax.
Chest: breathe in deeply and hold your breath, noticing the tension. Let your breath out and your chest relax. Repeat several times and notice the tension flow from your body as you breathe out
Back: arch your back without straining excessively. Relax. Notice the difference.
Abdomen: tighten stomach muscles and press lower back into the chair or the floor, depending on your chosen position. Notice the tension. Relax
Buttocks and thighs: tighten your thighs by pressing your heels into the floor as hard as you can. Bend you toes downwards, making your calves tense. Relax. Bend your toes toward your face, creating tension in shins. Relax
Shoulders: hunch your shoulders up towards your ears. Keep hunched for a few second then relax