Progressive Relaxation: Basic Script
Originally described as a method for treating high blood pressure, progressive
muscle relaxation can lower blood pressure and heart rate, improve blood flow,
and decrease anxiety which may reduce the perception of pain.
Instructions: Progressive relaxation can be practiced lying down or in a chair. Each
muscle or muscle group is tensed from five to seven seconds and then relaxed for
twenty to thirty seconds. This procedure is repeated at least once. If a particular
muscle is difficult to relax, you can practice tensing and releasing it up to five
times. You may also find it helpful to say to yourself as you are doing progressive
relaxation one or more of the following expressions:
Let go of the tension
Calm and rested
Relax and smooth out the muscles
Let the tension dissolve away
Get into a comfortable position in a quiet room where you won’t be disturbed.
You may want to loosen your clothing and remove your shoes. Begin to relax as
you take a few slow, deep breaths … Now as you let the rest of your body relax,
clench your fists and bend them back at the wrists … Tighter and tighter … feel
the tension in your fists and forearms … Now relax …. Feel the looseness in your
hands and forearms … Notice the contrast with the tension. …. (If you have time,
repeat this, and all succeeding procedures, at least one more time.) Now bend your
elbows and tense your biceps…. Tense them as hard as you ca and observe the
feeling of tautness…. Let your hands drop down and relax…. Feel that
difference…. Turn your attention to your head and wrinkle your forehead as tight
as you can…. Feel the tension in your forehead and scalp. Now relax and smooth
it out. Imagine your entire forehead and scalp becoming smooth and at rest….
Now frown and notice the strain spreading throughout your forehead…. Let go.
Allow your brow to become smooth again…. Squeeze your eyes closed….
Tighter…. Relax your eyes. Let them remain closed gently and comfortably….
Now open your mouth wide and feel the tension in your jaw…. Relax your jaw….
When the jaw is relaxed, your lips will be slightly parted. Notice the contrast
between tension and relaxation…. Now press your tongue against the roof of your
mouth. Experience the ache in the back of your mouth…. Relax…. Press your lips
now purse them into an “O”…. Relax your lips…. Feel the relaxation in your
forehead, scalp, eyes, jaw, tongue, and lips…. Let go more… and more….
Roll your head slowly around on your neck. Feeling the point of tension, shifting
as your head moves…. and then slowly roll your head the other way. Relax,
allowing your head to return to a comfortable upright position…. Now shrug your
shoulders; bring your shoulders up toward your ears… hold it… Drop your
shoulders back down and feel the relaxation spreading through your neck, throat,
and shoulders…. Pure relaxation, deeper and deeper….
Now breathe in and fill your lungs completely. Hold your breath.... Experience the
tension…. Now exhale and let your chest become loose… Continue relaxing,
letting your breath come freely and gently…. Notice the tension draining out of
your muscles with each exhalation…. Next, tighten your stomach and hold. Feel
the tension…. Relax…. Now place your hand on your stomach. Breathe deeply
into your stomach, pushing your hand up. Hold…. And relax. Feel the contrast of
relaxation as the air rushes out…. Now arch your back, without straining. Keep
the rest of your body as relaxed as possible. Focus on the tension in your lower
back…. Now relax…. Let the tension dissolve away
Tighten your buttocks and thighs…. Relax and feel the difference…. Now
straighten and tense your legs and curl your toes downward. Experience the
tension …. Relax…. Straighten and tense your legs and bend your toes toward
your face…. Relax.
Feel the comfortable warmth and heaviness of deep relaxation throughout your
entire body as you continue to breathe slowly and deeply…. You can relax even
more as you move up through your body, letting go of the last bit of tension in
your body. Relax your feet…. relax your ankles…. relax your calves…. relax your
shins…. relax your knees…. relax your thighs…. relax your buttocks…. Let the
relaxation spread to your stomach…. To your lower back…to your chest…. Let go
more and more. Feel the relaxation deepening in your shoulders… in your arms…
and in your hands…. Deeper and deeper. Notice the feeling of looseness and
relaxation in your neck… your jaw… your face … and your scalp… Continue to
breathe slowly and deeply. Your entire body is comfortably loose and relaxed,
calm and rested.
Source: Davis M, Eshelman ER, McKay M. The Relaxation & Stress Reduction Workbook. Fifth Edition. New
Harbinger Publications, Inc., Oakland, CA, 2000.
Reprinted 4/2015 with permission New Harbinger Publications, Inc. Oakland CA. by the Department of Nursing,
University of Wisconsin Hospitals & Clinics. HF#5883