I came across this technique in the ‘managing emotions’ course and I thought it might be useful to share.

Paired muscle relaxation is a skill, it takes tome to develop but it can be useful to try if you’re struggling with stress or having problems falling asleep.

General tips

  • Practice in a quiet place with no distractions
  • Effectiveness improves with practice
  • If you become anxious try focusing on your breathing until you’re able to continue

Step by Step

  1. Get into a comfortable position where you can relax.  Loosen tight clothing.  Lie or sit down with all body parts uncrossed.
  2. For each of the body areas below, gather tension by tightening the muscles, focus on the sensation of tightness and hold it as you inhale for 5-6 seconds, then release and breath out.
  3. As you release say in your mind very slowly the word “Relax”.
  4. Observe the changes in sensations as you relax for 10-15 seconds and then move on to the next muscle.

Muscle Groups

  1. Hands and Wrists: make fists with both hands and pull fists up on wrists
  2. Lower and upper arms: make fists and bend both arms up to touch your shoulders
  3. Shoulders: pull both shoulders up to your ears
  4. Forehead: pull eyebrows closer together, wrinkling forehead
  5. Eyes: shut tightly
  6. Nose and upper cheeks: scrunch up nose, bring upper lips and cheeks towards eyes
  7. Lips and lower face: press lips together, bring edges of lips back towards ears
  8. Tongue and mouth: teeth together, tongue pushing on upper mouth
  9. Neck: push head back into chair or floor
  10. Chest: take a deep breath and hold it
  11. Back: arch back bringing shoulders together
  12. Stomach: hold in tightly
  13. Buttocks: squeeze together
  14. Upper legs: legs out, tense thighs
  15. Calves: legs out point toes down
  16. Ankles: legs out, point toes together, heels out