Progressive muscle relaxation is a technique that helps you physically relax your body, so you can let go of tension both physically and psychologically. It involves the tensing and releasing of your muscles. By tensing the muscles you can then accentuate the feeling of release, as well as learning to discriminate when you might be unconsciously tensing your muscles during the day. Tensing your muscles shouldn’t produce pain, but rather a sensation of tightness or pressure.
When you first begin this procedure it will take about 30mins. Gradually you will require less time to feel fully relaxed.
Remember that relaxation is a skill and requires daily practice. Most benefit from this technique is gained over a period of time as your skills improve.
We’ll start now.
First, make yourself comfortable… loosen your clothes… take your glasses off…. And make sure that your head and neck are well supported so that you are really comfortable. … When you are ready, close your eyes… your eyelids are now resting you’re your eyes, quite relaxed, but not too tightly… now take a deep breath… hold it… then breathe out slowly… saying the word ‘relax’ to yourself…. And each time you breathe out feel some of the tension start to slowly slip away from your body… do that once again… take a deep breath, hold it, and then breath out slowly… saying to yourself ‘relax’. And each time you do this, feel the tension flow out of your muscles… flow out of your body and your mind. Now just focus on your breathing:
Smoothly breath in… [2, 3]
And out [2, 3]
And in [2, 3]
And out [2, 3]
(For 10 breaths)
Now we’ll begin the muscle relaxation exercises. First, with the muscles of the arms and hands. When I tell you on the next breath in, I’d like you to stretch your arms out in front of you and clench your fist, not too tightly, but enough to feel the tension in the muscles. Lets do that now on the next breath in… stretch out your arms, tighten your fists and hold the tension… feel the muscles… hold it… hold it… and now on your next breath out, drop your arms and relax… release the tension… feel the tension leave the muscles of your arms and the muscles of your hands… and each time with the out breath say the word ‘relax’. Feel the weight of your hands and arms as they rest heavily and relaxed by the side of your body, noticing the difference in your muscles between the tension of before and the feelings of relaxation now.
Now lets try that again… on the next breath in, stretch out your arms and tighten your fists. Feel the tension in the muscles… hold it, feel it… and on the next breath out, relax. Again, feel the tension slip away from your muscles, your fingers, your hands, your wrists and your arms. Notice as the muscles begin to feel more and more heavy… more and more warm… more and more relaxed. Remember, on every out breath say the word ‘relax’ and feel yourself sink deeper and deeper into the chair. Your hands and arms are more relaxed now… you may even experience a tingling sensation in your fingers. This is a sign that the muscles are getting more and more relaxed.
Now lets try with your shoulder. Raise them up towards your arms and hold them there. Keep them scrunched for one more breath ain, and them on the out breath, ‘relax’.
Now with your neck, lower your chin towards your chest and feel the muscles in the back of your neck..
And with your face, raise your eyebrows, scrunch up your nose and tighten your jaw (as if you’re making the sound “e”).
Lower back- push your stomach out and arch your lower back. Feel the muscles tense.
Stomach- Pull your stomach muscles back and in. hold tightly and then release.
Legs- stretch your legs out in front of you and pull your feet back towards your body and feel the tightness in your calves and in the tops of your legs. Hold your breath and then release, saying ‘relax’.
Notice the difference between the tension of before and the relaxation of now. See how it feels to be relaxed… how much more pleasant and comfortable it is to be relaxed… enjoy the calm feeling. Feel the tension draining out of you and on each breath out feel yourself becoming more and more loose and heavy. Enjoy the pleasant sensations of relaxation.
Now Slowly… bring your attention back to this room… to your body sitting in the chair… and as you start to come out of your relaxation, think about the way you are sitting… think about the colours and the furniture of the room… and think about you. Start to move your hands slowly… and your feet… and when you are ready in your own time, open your eyes. Stretch out and rub your face if you wish.. And finish your relaxation feeling refreshed, alert and awake.