Progressive Muscle Relaxation

From Healing Mind, Healthy Woman by Alice D. Domar, PhD and Henry Dreher. Henry Holt and Company, New York. 1996. Close your eyes; pay attention to your breathing. IF you’d rather not close your eyes, keep them open and focus on the floor or an object. Allow your stomach to rise as you inhale and to fall back down as you exhale. Take some time to breathe deeply before you begin PMR.

Now concentrate on your forehead. Consciously tighten the muscles of your forehead while counting slowly from one to five. How your forehead muscles as tight as you can for the direction of this count. Then let go of your tense forehead muscles while taking a nice, slow, deep breath. Notice your stomach rise as you inhale, and fall back down as you exhale. Now do this again: tighten your forehead muscles for a count of five; release those muscles as you take a slow, deep breath.

Now, move down your eyes, and repeat this process. Tighten the muscles around your eyes while counting slowly from one to five. Then let go of these tense muscles while taking a slow, deep breath.

For the remainder of the PMR exercise, repeat this process twice for each bodily area: tighten the muscles in a particular body area for a count of one to five; release that tension as you take a slow, deep breath.

Tighten and release your jaw, letting go of any tension

Tighten and release your neck

Tighten and release your back, all the way from the top of your spine down to your tailbone

Tighten your right shoulder, bringing it upward as high as you can. Let go of the tension.

Tighten your right shoulder, bringing upward as high as you can. Let go of the tension.

Tighten your right upper arm, from the shoulder to the elbow. Then let go of the tension

Tighten your right forearm; let go of the tension

Tighten your right hand into a fist; let go of the tension

Take a moment to notice if your right and left arms feel different now

Repeat this process on your left side, tightening and releasing your left shoulder, upper arm, forearms, and hand in the same manner your did on your right side

Tighten and release your chest

Tighten and release your abdomen

Tighten and release your pelvis, buttocks

Tighten and release your right upper leg muscles

Tighten and release your right lower leg

Tighten your right foot by pointing your toes upward; let go of the tension

Take a moment to notice if your right and left legs and feet feel differently now. Are your right leg and foot more relaxed?

Tighten and release your left upper leg muscles

Tighten and release your left lower leg

Tighten your left foot by pointing your toes upward; let go of the tension

As progressive muscles relaxation comes to a close, do a mental check of your entire body, from your head down to your toes. If you notice remaining areas of tension, tense those muscles for a count of one to five, then let go of those muscles as you take slow, deep breaths.

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