Progressive Muscle Relaxation
Progressive muscle relaxation is a simple, easy-to-learn technique that will help increase your sense of calm within 15 to 20 minutes. The technique involves successive tensing and relaxing of each muscle group in the body. While practicing progressive muscle relaxation, remember to follow these guidelines:
- Tense each muscle group tightly, without straining for 7 to 10 seconds.
- Release the muscles abruptly.
- Rest for 15 to 20 seconds before moving on to another muscle group.
- Stop if you feel pain.
- Breathe slowly and deeply from the abdomen.
Work on each muscle group in the following order, resting between each group. (These exercises can be performed while sitting or lying down.):
- Clench your fists. Hold and release.
- Tighten your biceps (the muscles in your upper arms) by making a muscle. Hold and release.
- Tighten the muscles in your forearms by extending arms straight and locking your elbows. Hold and release.
- Tense the muscles of the forehead by raising your eyebrows. Hold and release.
- Clench eyelids tightly shut. Hold and release.
- Open your mouth as wide as you can.* Hold and release.
- Look up to the sky to tense the muscles in the back of the neck.* Hold and release.
- Shrug your shoulders up toward your ears. Hold and release.
- Tighten the muscles of your upper back by pressing your shoulder blades together. Hold and release.
- Tighten chest muscles by taking a deep breath and holding it for 7 to 10 seconds. Hold and release.
- Tighten stomach muscles by pulling your belly button toward lower back. Hold and release.
- Arch your lower back. Hold and release.
- Contract the buttock muscles. Hold and release.
- Tighten the thigh muscles. Hold and release.
- Tighten the muscles of the lower legs by flexing your feet toward your body. Hold and release.
- Tighten the foot muscles by curling your toes under. Hold and release.
Finally, tense and relax any muscle groups that still have residual tension.
*Be gentle with the muscle groups in these areas, or skip them altogether if you have conditions such as temporomandibular joint syndrome (TMJ), neck strain, or disk problems.