Progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) is a relaxation and grounding technique which can help manage stress and anxiety, and ground you. It is based upon the simple practice of tensing, or tightening, one muscle group at a time followed by relaxing them.
Most practitioners recommend tensing and relaxing the muscle groups one at a time in a specific order, generally beginning with the lower extremities and ending with the face, abdomen, and chest. You can practice this technique seated or lying down.
- While inhaling, contract one muscle group (for example your feet or calves) for 5 seconds to 10 seconds, then exhale and suddenly release the tension in that muscle group.
- Give yourself 10 seconds to 20 seconds to relax, and then move on to the next muscle group (for example your thighs).
- While releasing the tension, try to focus on the changes you feel when the muscle group is relaxed. Imagery may be helpful in conjunction with the release of tension, such as imagining that stressful feelings are flowing out of your body as you relax each muscle group.
- Gradually work your way up the body contracting and relaxing muscle groups.