Progressive muscle relaxation starts with finding a comfortable position – in a chair, laying down, or even standing if you like. Begin by focusing on your breathing for a few breaths – listen and feel your breaths go in and out, and try to extend your breaths so that they take about 4 seconds in, and 4 seconds out. You can count while you do this to help you. Then either start at your feet or your head by tightening a muscle group and hold it while you breathe in 4 seconds, then release that muscle group on the breath out for 4 seconds. For example, tighten your forehead for 4 seconds, then release for 4, then tighten your neck muscles and release for 4 seconds, moving down your body progressively until you get to your feet. Then you can come back up through the muscle groups and end with your head. If you find that 4 second cycles don’t work, feel free to move faster or slower, whatever pace gives you the best relaxation response.
-Submitted by Alexa Thompson, LPC