Progressive muscle relaxation is gradually tightening and loosening one muscle group at a time, starting from the tips of your toes to the top of your head. It was invented in the 1930s by Edmund Jacobson as a stress relief technique.
- Go to a quiet location free from distractions
- Tense a muscle group for 15 seconds
- Relax the muscle group for 30 seconds
- Repeat steps 2-3 for each muscle group in your body
It is important to focus on a single muscle group at a time and ensure that tension is gentle.
- May reduce anxiety
- May reduce pain
- May improve stress recovery
- May improve sleep and relieve insomnia
Progressive muscle relaxation causes a state of mental calmness which clears your mind. It also helps with balance the autonomic nervous system. This decreases your stress levels and stimulates rest and recovery signals in your body. The mind and voluntary muscles are thought to be linked, so relaxing one relaxes the other.
Very rare increases in anxiety as you become more aware of your body
Rare instances of pain, heart palpitations, and muscle twitching
It should not be used by persons with psychiatric disorders.
Another good technique that has similar benefits is stretching
Try to combine this techniques with relaxing music or sounds to amplify effects
- Manzoni, G. M., Pagnini, F., Castelnuovo, G., & Molinari, E. (2008). Relaxation training for anxiety: A ten-years systematic review with meta-analysis. BMC Psychiatry, 8(1), 41. https://doi.org/10.1186/1471-244X-8-41
- Kwekkeboom, K. L., & Gretarsdottir, E. (2006). Systematic review of relaxation interventions for pain. Journal of Nursing Scholarship: An Official Publication of Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing, 38(3), 269–277.
- Alexandru, B. V., Róbert, B., Viorel, L., & Vasile, B. (2009). Treating primary insomnia: A comparative study of self-help methods and progressive muscle relaxation. Journal of Cognitive and Behavioral Psychotherapies, 9(1), 67-82.
- Rausch, S. M., Gramling, S. E., & Auerbach, S. M. (2006). Effects of a single session of large-group meditation and progressive muscle relaxation training on stress reduction, reactivity, and recovery. International Journal of Stress Management, 13(3), 273–290. https://doi.org/10.1037/1072-5245.13.3.273