A Progressive Muscle Relaxation Exercise
For this activity, you will tense and then release different muscle groups, noticing how that feels. It is important to do this without straining, instead, slowly and gently progressing through the tension.
Starting at your toes, bring your attention to your feet and toes. Breathe in deeply through your nose, and as you do, gradually curl your toes down and tense the muscles in the soles of your feet. Hold your breath for just a few seconds and then release the muscles in your feet as you breathe out. Feel the tension in your feet melt away as you exhale. Repeat this one more time.
Notice the difference in how your feet feel when tensed and when they are relaxed.
Feel yourself relaxing more and more deeply with each breath.
Now bring your awareness to your lower legs, starting with your calf muscles. As you draw in a nice deep breath, point your toes up towards the sky and tighten these muscles. Hold for just a moment, and then let those muscles go limp as you exhale. Repeat one more time.
Take a deep breath in, and tense the muscles in your thighs. Hold for just a moment, and then release everything. As you do this, the blood flow to your muscles increases, and you may notice a warm tingling sensation. Enjoy this feeling of soothing relaxation in your thighs. Repeat one more time.
Now bring your awareness to your stomach. Draw in a nice deep breath and then tighten these muscles. Now release your breath and let your muscles relax. Notice the sensation of relief that comes from letting go. Repeat one more time.
Shoulders and Neck
Now bring your attention to your shoulder muscles and the muscles in your neck. As you slowly draw in a nice deep breath, pull your shoulders up towards your ears and squeeze these muscles firmly. Now breathe out completely, and allow your contracted muscles to go loose and limp. Repeat this one more time.
Notice the feeling of relaxation that is moving through your body. Enjoy the feeling.
Arms and Hands
As you take a breath in, raise your wrists towards your shoulders and tighten the muscles in your upper arms. Hold that movement as well as your breath for just a moment and then gently lower your arms and breathe all the way out. You may feel a warm, burning sensation in your muscles when you tighten them. Feel how relaxing it is to release that tightness and to breathe away all tension. Repeat this one more time.
Now bring your awareness to your forearms. As you breathe in, curl your hands inwards as though you are trying to touch the inside of your elbows with your fingertips. Now feel the tension subside as you relax and breathe out. Repeat this one more time.
Lastly, take another breath in and tightly clench your fists. When you have finished breathing in, hold for just a few seconds, and then release. Notice any feelings of buzzing or throbbing. Your hands are becoming very soft and relaxed. Repeat this one more time.
Now tighten the muscles in your face by squeezing your eyes shut and clenching your lips together. As you do, breathe in fully. Hold it...now breathe out and relax all your facial muscles.
How does your body feel now that you have completed the activity? What are the differences in how you feel now compared to how you did at the start of the activity?