Many of us are experiencing lots of stress and anxiety these days, and progressive relaxation is a great option that can help.
It is one of a few very practical techniques that can assist you in finding calm and peace. Also known as a “progressive muscular relaxation technique,” it is simple to do. All you need is 8 minutes and a quiet space to practice.
In this post, I’ll walk you step by step through the technique so you can try it for yourself, see how calming and refreshing it is, and bring more rejuvenation, ease, and love to your life and relationships.
What Is Progressive Relaxation?
There are some very practical techniques that can assist you in finding calm and peace. One that I really like is called a progressive muscular relaxation technique.
This technique will have you focusing on breathing to a specific count of four, while slowly concentrating on areas of your body to relax the muscle groups in those areas.
This will help to ease tension in your body, which will then also ease tension in your mind.
To listen to me guide you through it, simply watch the video above.
Here’s how it works…
How to Practice Progressive Relaxation
Step 1: Close Your Eyes & Breathe Naturally
Begin by closing your eyes and taking a deep breath. Then, relax on the exhale.
As you begin, let your breath be normal and natural. Reflect on how you feel in your body.
We are going to use your attention to connect the mind to the body.
First, increase your awareness of your fingers.
Then, raise your hands up beside you to put more awareness to:
- Your hands
- Your palms
- Your fingers
Take a moment to feel your palms and your fingers. Once again, take a deep breath.
This time, hold your breath for the count of four and then exhale to the count of four.
Step 2: Use a Four Count Breathing Technique
Try that breathing technique for progressive relaxation again:
- Breathe in for four counts
- Hold for four counts
- Exhale for four counts
Each time, you will breathe in, hold, and exhale.
As you breathe, continue to be aware of your fingers and your palms. Notice your palms and your fingers and your fingertips and exhale.
Then, bring your palms back to a resting position in your lap, being comfortable.
Let yourself, with every breath, become more aware of the body.
As you breathe in, become aware of your right and left arms.
Then, hold and exhale and let your breath be easy.
Once you’re breathing and aware of your arms and the space that contains your arms, we move onto the next step of progressive relaxation…
Step 3: Let Each Body Part Feel Heavy
Imagine your arms are becoming heavier and heavier. Let that heaviness spread to your chest. Let your chest relax and feel heavy or simply become aware of the space that contains your chest. Now, let your awareness go down to the belly and feel the heaviness there.
Your arms are heavy, your chest is heavy, and your belly is heavy.
Take a breath — deeper than usual — to the count of four, hold, and exhale.
Be easy with your awareness of the belly, and maybe even let it relax outwards. As if nobody’s looking, the belly becomes bigger, it’s heavy.
Take another breath as if you’re just relieved and relaxed.
Then, simply become aware of your right and left legs.
Imagine your legs becoming heavier, and your whole body becoming heavier.
Maybe you feel a sensation in your hands, arms, or legs:
Just notice that and be aware of that.
Bringing your awareness to your body brings you into the present time.
And, in the present time, there is no danger.
When you’re in the present moment, your body knows you’re safe and can respond appropriately.
Finally, become aware of your feet and your toes. Imagine the space, feel the space that contains your feet. Notice any sensation. Then, we turn this attention around…
Step 4: Bring Awareness to Your Whole Body
We continue this progressive relaxation by moving back up the spine.
Bring your awareness to your whole body with this feeling of heaviness.
Move to the base of your spine, and then up about six inches. Just imagine you can feel that space, and be aware of the space that contains your spine.
Then, move all the way up to…
- Where your belly button is
- Behind your belly button
- Up to your solar plexus
- Up to the center of your chest
- Into the back of your neck
- The whole spine
- Your head
- Your skull
- The brain inside your skull
Just let your awareness go there. Be aware of the eye sockets in your eyes.
At this point, take another relaxing breath.
As you breathe into your nose, be aware of:
- The nose
- Your tongue
- Your lips
- Your mouth
- Your chin
As you become aware of the different parts of your body, which are present right here in this moment, you will notice that feelings of anxiety tend to disappear and a calm begins to descend over your whole body. This is the effect of progressive relaxation.
Then, we add the final piece for even more calming…
Step 5: Incorporate a Gentle Affirmation
Your awareness in your breath and body and the present moment is relaxation.
This is letting go of anxiety.
Notice how you feel, then speak these simple affirmations out loud or in your mind:
“I am safe. I am comfortable. I am at ease.”
And even if you still feel some anxiousness or stress, just continue to feel your body and make these affirmations.
- “I am safe.”
- “I am comfortable.”
- “I am at ease.”
After repeating these affirmations a few times, open your eyes and feel at ease, at peace, and refreshed.
Doing this practice can help you:
- Sleep better if you’re having trouble going to sleep or staying asleep
- Calm anxious, obsessive, or looping thoughts that seem to hijack your mind
- Reduce stress hormones to enjoy greater focus, creativity, love, and joy in your life
I hope this progressive relaxation technique has helped you feel calmer already and is something simple you can use going forward.
I invite you to come back to this video anytime and listen to my voice guide you through this practice. I feel so good after doing it. How about you?
Grow in love,