There are legitimate worries and concerns that you’re dealing with, like staying healthy, the health of loved ones, your job, and the state of the economy. However, feeling tense all the time has many negative effects on your body and your mind.

This is an exercise I use a lot with clients dealing with chronic anxiety and PTSD.

For over 20 years, Progressive Muscle Relaxation has been recognized as an effective evidence-based practice for releasing stress. When we’re stressed our bodies tense-up—and our nervous system gets locked in stress mode. Is order to relax, that tension needs to be released. Here’s how you release that tension:


You’ll need about 15 minutes. This exercise can be done while sitting in a chair or lying down on the floor or a bed.

If laying down, lay on your back, your arms and legs loose at your sides.

If in a chair, sit with your back upright, hands resting comfortable on your thighs, your foot resting comfortably on the ground.

Here’s the process: we’ll focus on specific muscle groups (see list below). You will inhale at the same time as you tense your muscles. Tense as tight as you can. Hold your muscles tight for a count of 5. Exhale and release your muscles. Relax. Take a few breaths, focusing on the sensations in your relaxed muscles. Then move on to the next muscle group and repeat.

1-Starting with the muscles of your scalp and brow.

Inhale while tensing these muscles. Tense as tight as you can.
Hold your muscles tight for a count of 5.
Exhale releasing your muscles.
Take a few slow breaths paying attention to the sensations in your loose muscles.
Move to the next muscle group.

2-Your facial muscles: eyes, teeth, jaw

3-Neck and shoulder

4-Chest and abdomen

5-Right arm: upper arm, forearm and hand making a fist

6-Left arm: upper arm, forearm and hand making a fist

7-buttocks and pelvic floor

8-Right thigh and calf

9-Left thigh and calf

10-Right foot and toes

11-Left foot and toes

Like any skill, it takes practice for you to notice full results. I strangly recommend that you practice this daily for 21 days—the amount of time the brain needs to built habit-forming memory. The more you practice this exercise, the more it becomes of helpful tool that you can access in many different situations.

Want more skills to manage your anxiety, Contact My Winnipeg Therapist to set up an appointment.

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