Progressive Muscle Relaxation is an incredible skill to help manage stress, anxiety, panic, and any unpleasant feeling. It’s also great if you just want to relax! It’s a great way to ground your mind AND your body and can be done anywhere.
How It Works
You can either find a guided progressive muscle relaxation exercise to listen to or do it on your own (once you know the muscle groups). Find a comfortable seat or lay down (closing your eyes is optional). Start from your feet and work your way up your body.
- Inhale and tense the first muscle group for 5 seconds. Squeeze tightly, but not to the point of cramping.
- Exhale and relax the muscle group completely.
- Rest for 15 seconds and notice how the muscle group feels differently when tense vs relaxed.
- Once you have finished all the muscle groups, squeeze all muscle groups to the best of your ability together and hold for 10 seconds.
- Count backward from 5 to bring you back to the present moment.
Below is a guide on what to do as you focus on different muscle groups.
|Muscle Group||What to Do|
|Feet||Curl your toes towards your heel|
|Lower Legs||Point toes towards your face; Then point toes away|
|Thighs||Clench them hard|
|Hips and Glutes||Press your buttocks together tightly|
|Stomach||Suck it into a tight knot|
|Back||Arch your back up|
|Chest||Inhale and hold for 5 seconds|
|Front of Neck||Touch chin to chest|
|Back of Neck||Raise your chin up|
|Biceps/Upper Arms||Clench hands into a fist, bend arms at elbows and flex biceps|
|Wrists/Forearms||Extend arms, bend hands back at the wrist|
|Hands||Clench them into a fist|
|Mouth||Press lips together tightly|
|Cheeks/Jaw||Smile as widely as you can|
|Eyes/Nose||Close eyes as tightly as possible|
|Forehead||Raise eyebrows as high as possible|
About the author, Mackenzie Dajani:
Mackenzie is a Resident in Counseling with an M.A. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Marymount University and a B.A. in Psychology, providing counseling services at our Alexandria location. She also holds a Religious Studies degree from The College of William & Mary.
Mackenzie has completed internships working with diverse individuals, couples, and families. She has completed the majority of her residency in an inpatient behavioral health hospital. She has clinical experience and a particular interest in working with adults, couples, anxiety, depression, relationship distress, grief, and motivation. Mackenzie offers Christian counseling, as well.
Mackenzie provides a person-centered and holistic approach, utilizing strength-based, cognitive-behavioral, and Gestalt interventions. As a certified yoga instructor, Mackenzie values mindfulness and the mind-body connection.