Deep Progressive Muscular And Mental Relaxation

Before you begin: Your relaxation will be interrupted if you are constantly looking at a printout of this page to see what to do next. This exercise will be most successful if you

  1. have someone read this to you in a slow and quiet way. OR
  2. read these instructions into a tape recorder and play the tape back as you relax. OR
  3. have these instructions read to you from the computer. This takes about 15 minutes

Progressive Muscular Relaxation Exercise

1. Find a quiet, warm room with a bed, couch, or reclining chair. Or pick a soft, carpeted area of the floor to stretch out on. Arrange this time so that you will not be interrupted.

2. Take off your shoes, lie down with your hands at your sides, and close your eyes.

3. As tightly as you can, tense your right hand. Hold it clenched for a few seconds, then loosen it. Continue relaxing your hand until it begins to feel warm and heavy.

4. Tense the muscles in your right forearm and then in your upper arm. Concentrate on the tension in your bicep, and then let your arm become soft and relaxed. Imagine that your relaxing arm is “melting” into the floor.

muscular relaxation exercise

5. Move to your shoulders and neck. Shrug your shoulders up to your ears and then press them down away from your ears. Allow them to relax, focusing on letting the tension drain from the back of your neck as well.

6. Focus your attention on your right foot and calf. Curl your toes up and tense your lower leg. Now relax it. Let it sink into the floor. Tense your upper leg. Let the tension go.

7. When your right hand, arm, shoulders, foot, and leg feel comfortable, heavy, warm, and relaxed, continue to the other side of your body.

8. Tense your left hand. Hold it clenched for a few seconds, then loosen it. Relax your hand until it begins to feel warm and heavy.

9. Tense the muscles in your left arm. Concentrate on the tension in your bicep, and then let your arm become soft and relaxed. Remember that your arm is “melting” into the floor.

10. Move to your shoulders and neck again. This is a high-tension area. Shrug your shoulders up to your ears and then press them down away from your ears. Relax your shoulders. Feel the tension drain from the back of your neck.

11. Focus your attention on your left foot and calf. Curl your toes up and tense your lower leg. Now relax it. Let it sink into the floor. Tense your upper leg. Let the tension go.

12. Push out your abdominal muscles, making your stomach large and round. Hold this distended position for a few seconds, then let the tension go, allowing your muscles to relax. Now, suck in your stomach muscles until they feel tight and tense; release them by relaxing your stomach.

woman doing a muscular relaxation exercise

13. Allow your breathing to slow down. Your breathing should be controlled by your diaphragm rather than your chest. Your muscles should feel heavy and warm. Your whole lower body is still and heavy and all of the tension and stiffness has drained from it.

14. Allow the wave of relaxation to continue into your jaw, neck, and facial muscles.

15. Wrinkle your nose and make a big, exaggerated smile and hold it for just a moment. Now, let your facial muscles relax.

16. Press your tongue up against the roof of your mouth. Feel the tension in your chin, jaw and mouth. Allow your mouth to relax. Let your jaw slide into a relaxed position.

17. Bend your head back against the couch, bed, or floor to tense the muscles in your neck. Let your head and neck slide back to a comfortable resting position.

18. Lift your eyebrows. Hold them and feel the tension in your forehead and scalp. Now, release your eyebrows and let your forehead and scalp relax. They should feel cool and smooth.

19. Study all the muscles in your body and relax those that still feel tense. Recheck high tension areas like the shoulders, neck, forehead, and face.

20. Breathe slowly.

Mental Relaxation

When your muscles are completely loose and comfortable, deepen your state of relaxation by following these steps:

  1. Keep your eyes closed. Think about how calm and cool your forehead is.
  2. Allow random thoughts to float through your mind.
  3. Now focus your thoughts on a beach with gentle waves lapping against the shore. The water and the sky are deep blue. Concentrate on the feeling of the color blue.
  4. Feel your breath moving in and out. Notice how steady and calm and regular it is. Follow this steady rhythm as you breathe in and out, keeping the muscles of your face, eyes, and forehead loose and relaxed.
  5. As you exhale, think of the word “breath”. Think this word on each exhalation. Do not try to control your breathing, just follow it with the word “breath”. Now simplify your mind further and think only “ah” as you exhale. There are no other thoughts in your mind, just “ah”as you exhale.
  6. Return from your relaxed state slowly and gently. Stretch your toes and feel energy flow into your legs. Flex your fingers and bend your arms slightly. Open your eyes and just breathe for a few more moments. Return to a sitting position.

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