How do I practice progressive deep relaxation?

Progressive muscle relaxation teaches you to relax your muscles through a two-step process. The first step is to deliberately apply tension to certain muscle groups. Step two is to stop the tension and turn your attention to noticing how the muscles relax as the tension flows away.

Through repetitive practice you quickly learn to distinguish the differences between a tensed and completely relaxed muscle. With this simple knowledge, you can then induce physical muscular relaxation at the first signs of the tension that accompanies anxiety. And with physical relaxation comes mental calmness in any situation.

To perform progressive muscle relaxation stretch out comfortably on the floor, face up, with a pillow underneath your knees. Each muscle starting from the feet and working upward is contracted in sequence for five seconds with only 70 percent of maximal effort to avoid unnecessary straining. Because chronic stress leads to high muscular tension, acute awareness of how progressively tightening and relaxing muscles feels can release the tension in the muscles and teach the body to relax at will.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.