Progressive Muscle Relaxation Technique

Are you looking for a natural way to manage physical and emotional tension? The progressive muscle relaxation technique is a simple yet effective way to reduce stress and anxiety. (And it presents zero health risks and multiple benefits while taking less than seven minutes to complete.)

Follow this 7-minute, step-by-step video to learn how to do it and practice daily. Scroll down to learn more about the science and benefits of this technique.

Step-by-Step Guide to Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR)

Progressive muscle relaxation is a technique designed to help you soothe anxiety and progressively relax your muscles, starting from your toes and moving up to your head.

By following the simple instructions, you will learn how to relax each muscle group in your body, helping you to achieve a deep state of relaxation and calmness. Whether you’re feeling anxious, overwhelmed, or need a break from the hustle and bustle of daily life, this relaxation video will help you find your inner peace and tranquility.

Practice Regularly to Build Your Relaxation Skills and Reduce Stress and Anxiety in Your Daily Life.

Like any skill, the more you practice progressive muscle relaxation technique, the easier it will become to add it into your routine. It’s important to set aside less than seven minutes each day to practice this technique. Over time, you will become more skilled at recognizing when your muscles are tense and how to relax them.

This can help you reduce stress and anxiety throughout your day when you start it off with self-care and groundedness.

Once mindful relaxation becomes part of your routine, you will enjoy an improvement in your overall well-being. Here are some research-backed benefits:

Tried and True Benefits of Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR)

Here are 10 scientifically backed benefits of progressive muscle relaxation:

  1. Stress reduction: PMR has been shown to reduce stress levels and promote relaxation effectively. Systematically tensing and relaxing muscles helps release tension and relieve stress-related symptoms.
  2. Anxiety management: PMR is an effective technique for managing anxiety disorders. Research has demonstrated that it can reduce anxiety symptoms and improve overall well-being.
  3. Sleep improvement: PMR has been found to promote better sleep quality. By helping individuals relax both physically and mentally, it can alleviate insomnia and improve sleep patterns.
  4. Pain management: Progressive muscle relaxation can help manage chronic pain conditions. Studies have shown that it can reduce pain intensity and improve pain tolerance.
  5. Lower blood pressure: Regular practice of PMR has been associated with lower blood pressure levels. It can help individuals with hypertension manage their condition and reduce the risk of cardiovascular problems.
  6. Mood enhancement: PMR has been found to have positive effects on mood. It can help reduce symptoms of depression and improve overall emotional well-being.
  7. Muscle tension relief: As the name suggests, PMR specifically targets muscle tension. It can effectively reduce muscle tightness and relieve discomfort associated with tense muscles.
  8. Headache and migraine relief: Progressive muscle relaxation has been shown to alleviate headache and migraine symptoms. By promoting relaxation and reducing muscle tension, it can provide relief from these conditions.
  9. Improved concentration and focus: Regular practice of PMR can enhance concentration and focus. By promoting relaxation and reducing stress, it creates a conducive environment for improved cognitive functioning.
  10. Enhanced self-awareness: PMR encourages individuals to focus on their body and sensations. This increased self-awareness can be beneficial in managing stress, recognizing signs of tension, and taking proactive steps for self-care.

It is worth noting that while PMR has demonstrated these benefits in various studies, individual results may vary. It is always recommended to consult with a healthcare professional or therapist to determine if PMR is suitable for your specific needs.

Need More Help with Anxiety?

Check out this article to learn more about anxiety and the different kinds of anxiety treatment.

Here is the Progressive Muscle Relaxation Script

Feel free to use this script to create your own audio file with a different voice, or read it to your friend, family member or partner to help them manage stress and overwhelm.

To get started find a very comfortable, relaxed position. You may want to close your eyes. Or feel free to keep them open if you’re more comfortable that way.

Let’s begin by focusing on your breathing, following your breath as it comes into your body, and goes out of your body.

Take three slow, full, natural breaths in and out, noticing how your energy rises on the in breath and falls on the out-breath. Slow, even breaths can help our bodies begin to relax as we start to notice the difference between tension and relaxation.

Now, focus on your feet, continuing to breathe evenly and naturally, and tighten the muscles in your feet by clenching your toes and pulling the tops of your feet up toward your shins.

Tight and tense.

And hold.

Then release and relax, noticing the difference between tension and calm relaxation.

Next, focus on those lower legs. Tighten those muscles in your calves, tight and tense. And hold. Then release and relax, allowing the tension to drain away and melt into the ground. Notice the experience of peaceful relaxation in your calves. Continue to breathe naturally and easily as you pay attention to the relaxation in your calves.

Shift your awareness now to your upper legs. Tense and tighten the muscles in your thighs.

Tight and tense … And hold

Then release and relax, letting any tightness, discomfort or stress flow away while continuing to notice the difference between tension and tranquility. Stay with that experience while continuing to breathe easily and calmly. Now let’s move your awareness to your stomach and back. Tighten those muscles by pulling your bellybutton as far as you can toward your back.

Tight and tense.

Hold.  Tight.

Then release and relax making plenty of space in your abdomen for your breath, noticing how it feels to allow your muscles to be still.

Gently shift your attention to your hands. Tighten your fingers into tight, tense fists. Squeezing as tight as you can.

Then release and relax letting any tension or discomfort flow out through your fingertips. Take time for the experience as the tension melts away. Replaced by a feeling of calm peaceful relaxation.

Next, focus on your arms. Tighten all of those muscles pulling your hands in as tight as you can into your body. Tight and tense. And hold. Then release and relax allowing your arms to settle. Noticing the difference between stress and stillness. Take the time to breathe into this experience.

Now move on to your shoulders and neck. Go ahead and lift your shoulders up and in, really pulling them into your neck.

And hold tight, tensing them.

Then release and relax, letting your shoulder fall gently down and back, letting go of any stress and allowing the muscles in your neck and shoulders to be free from tension.

Now gently focus your attention on all the tiny little muscles of your face. Tighten those muscles by tightly shutting your eyes, clenching your jaw and stretching your lips up and back.

Maintain the tension.

Then release and relax. Letting your muscles be settled and comfortable, paying attention to the difference between the tightness of tension and the comfort of relaxation.

And now imagine looking over your whole body to see if there are any remaining areas of tension or discomfort. Gently breathe into those areas imagining oxygen is going directly to any areas of tension.

Enjoy for a few more moments the comfort and relaxation you feel, knowing that you can return here at any time.

Allow your body to continue to feel comfortable and relaxed even as your attention turns elsewhere. When we are relaxed, we are more focused, experience less pain, and are more able to connect to what we are doing.


Laura Silverstein, LCSW

Laura Silverstein is a Certified Gottman Couples Therapist, and author of Love Is An Action Verb.  She has thirty years of clinical experience and is the founder and co-owner of Main Line Counseling Partners, based in Bryn Mawr, PA. Laura is a frequent contributor to The Gottman Relationship Blog and has appeared as a relationship expert in media outlets such as the New York Times, ABC, and Today. She helps couples find more happiness as a research clinician, speaker, trainer, and writer with a positive, action-oriented style.

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