Progressive muscle relaxation

This exercise helps to ease tension and keep you in a relaxed state. Using relaxation skills such as this one can improve your state of mind if you take the time to learn and hone these skills.

How to do it:

  • Choose a quiet room and find a comfortable chair to sit in. If you want to, you could play soothing, relaxing music in the background.
  • Rest your hands in your lap and your feet on the floor. Make yourself as comfortable as possible. Use extra cushions if need be or loosen any tight clothing.
  • Take a deep breath, letting it out slowly.
  • Extend one arm in front of you. Make a tight fist and tense the muscles as hard as you can. Hold for a count of five. Concentrate on how tense the hand feels.
  • Relax your hand partly. Clench it again for a count of five. Notice and remember the difference in sensation between the clenched and unclenched muscles.
  • Now release the tension completely, allowing your hand to feel completely relaxed. Take a deep breath and exhale slowly.
  • Repeat this sequence for the other hand, then for your arms, shoulders, neck and facial muscles. Take deep breaths between each muscle group until the entire upper body is relaxed.
  • Using the same routine of tensing and then relaxing muscles, go on to your stomach, buttocks, legs and feet.
  • After tensing and relaxing your entire body, close your eyes and sit quietly for at least five minutes. Breathe deeply and concentrate on a pleasant thought or peaceful scene.

It may seem that some muscles just do not want to relax. Be patient. It takes time to change bad habits. Spend a few extra minutes on those muscles each day. If it is your hands, flex and unflex the fingers and then try to relax the entire hand.

Related Articles
Post a question to Cybershrink.
Relaxation exercises that work

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24