Mindful Mondays Paired Progressive Muscle Relaxation

F! feeling bad, let’s practice Progressive Muscle Relaxation!

Progressive muscle relaxation activates the body’s natural relaxation response, which reduces stress. What’s really fascinating, is that if you say “relax” in your mind at the right moment, eventually your body will relax when you just say it in your mind.

Settle into your pose and take some cleansing breaths…melt into the post…I know you can’t hear me.


You are going to focus on your breath for this one, so find a quiet place to sit or lie down with few distractions.

  1. Find a comfortable seated pose or lying position.
  2. Close your eyes or find a place to stare across the room that’s not a person…because that’s creepy.
  3. As always, I’m a fan of taking a few cleansing breaths where you breathe in deeply and exhale loudly.
  4. You are going to tighten groups of muscles one a time while inhaling for 5-6 seconds.
  5. When you exhale, say the word “relax” in your mind and immediately release all tension in your muscles.
  6. Repeat the process going through the different muscle groups throughout your body.


Muscle Groups

1Hands and Wrists: make fists with both hands
2Lower and upper arms: Make fists and bend both arms up to touch your shoulders
3Shoulders: Pull both shoulders up to your ears
4Forehead: Pull eyebrows close together, wrinkling forehead
5Eyes: Shut eyes tightly
6Nose and upper cheeks: Scrunch up nose and bring upper lips and cheeks up toward eyes
7Lips and lower face: Press lips together, bring edges of lips back toward ears.
8Tongue and mouth: teeth together, tongue pushing on upper mouth
9Neck: Push head back into chair, floor, or bed, or push chin down to chest
10Chest: Take a deep breath and hold it
11Back: Arch back, bringing shoulder blades together
12Stomach: Hold stomach in tightly
13Buttocks: Squeeze buttocks together
14Upper legs and thighs: legs out, tense thighs
15Calves: legs out, point toes down
16Ankles: legs out, point toes together, heels out, curl toes under

Taken from DBT Skills Training Handouts and Worksheets  – Linehan



Progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) is a technique created in the 1920s by Edmund Jacobson, a physician that believed physical relaxation would lead to mental relaxation—and he was right.

There are a LOT of benefits from practicing PMR that include, but are not limited to:

  • Relaxation
  • Better sleep
  • Lowered blood pressure
  • Pain relief (neck and back)
  • Fewer migraines

However, in this technique you are PARING it with the word “relax.” If you remember Pavlov’s dogs salivating for food when the bell rang, then you know why. Classical conditioning tends to have effects on physiological responses. Every time you say the word “relax” and release tension in your muscles, you are creating a pattern of movement in neurological pathways that strengthen through your continued practice. Over time, you will be able to think the word “relax” and have your muscles release tension. If this is your goal, be sure to practice several times per week on a consistent basis over the course of a month…AND continue to practice it every once in a while to reinforce the muscle memory.

If you are interested in increasing your ability to regulate your emotions, move through the world more purposefully, and manage overwhelming anger and anxiety, consider registering for updates on upcoming programs and sign up for your free consultation.

For more information about PMR, follow the links below:

The Benefits of Progressive Muscle Relaxation and How to Do It – Healthline

Effectiveness of Progressive Muscle Relaxation, Deep Breathing, and Guided Imagery in Promoting Psychological and Physiological States of Relaxation – NIH

Progressive Muscle Relaxation – Psychology Tools


Disclaimer: This content is intended for educational purposes only. It is not a substitute for mental health or medical treatment. It is important for those with clinical and medical diagnoses to receive the appropriate treatment from trusted and trained practitioners.