The body responds to
stress with muscle tension, which can cause pain or
discomfort. In turn, tense muscles relay to the body that it's stressed, which keeps the stress?muscle-tension cycle going. Progressive muscle relaxation helps break this cycle by reducing muscle tension and general
mental anxiety. Progressive muscle relaxation often helps people get to
You can use a recording to help you go through all the
muscle groups, or you can just learn the order of muscle groups and work
through them from memory.
Choose a place where you can lie down on your
back and stretch out comfortably, such as a carpeted floor.
and tense each muscle group (hard but not to the point of cramping) for 4 to 10
seconds, then exhale and suddenly and completely relax the muscle group (do not
relax it gradually). Give yourself 10 to 20 seconds to relax.
you are finished, return to alertness by counting backwards from 5 to 1.
Muscle groups and how to tense them
Hands: Clench them.
forearms: Extend them and bend your hands back at the wrist.
and upper arms: Clench your hands into fists, bend your arms at the elbows, and
flex your biceps.
Shoulders: Shrug them.
Wrinkle it into a deep frown.
Around the eyes and bridge of the
nose: Close your eyes as tightly as possible. (Remove contact lenses before
beginning the exercise.)
Cheeks and jaws: Smile as widely as you
Around the mouth: Press your lips together tightly. (Check
your facial area for tension.)
Back of the neck: Press your head
Front of the neck: Touch your chin to your chest. (Check
your neck and head for tension.)
Chest: Take a deep breath and hold
it, then exhale.
Back: Arch your back up and away from the
Stomach: Suck it into a tight knot. (Check your chest and
stomach for tension.)
Hips and buttocks: Press the buttocks
Thighs: Clench them hard.
Point your toes toward your face, as if trying to bring the toes up to touch
your head. Then point your toes away and curl them downward at the same time.
(Check the area from your waist down for tension.)
Progressive muscle relaxation is sometimes combined with
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.