Controlling Anxiety With Progressive Muscle Relaxation

Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR) is best used when you have some time, a quiet place, and a little privacy. PMR is a method where you systematically tense and relax the major muscles in your body.

PMR was developed more than 75 years ago by Edmund Jacobson, a doctor who saw the connection between tense muscles and a tense mind. PMR works by helping you become aware of the difference between how your muscles feel when they’re tensed and when they’re relaxed.

Start PMR by assuming a comfortable position, either sitting or lying down, and by closing your eyes. Make a tight fist with your right hand, and at the same time tense your right forearm. Hold this position for five seconds, feeling the tension in both your hand and arm, and then slowly release that tension, letting it flow out of you as you unclench your fist.

Repeat the procedure with your left hand, noting the difference between how this hand feels tensed compared with your right hand and arm, which are now relaxed.

Continue by separately tensing your shoulder muscles, your neck, and the muscles in your face. Then start with your feet and toes, moving up each leg; finish by tensing the muscles in your abdomen and chest.

Once you’ve tensed and released every muscle group in your body, take a moment to savor the overall feeling of relaxation. Then open your eyes and end the exercise.

Source: How to Study in College (eighth edition) by Walter Pauk and Ross J.Q. Owens. Pg. 94.