How to do PMR

Progressive Muscle Relaxation Exercise (PMR)

By reducing physical tension in our bodies, we can diminish anxiety, experience more calm and focus, and improve our health.



Most people tend to hold their tension in specific muscle groups – the stomach, jaw, or neck and shoulders, but you may be different.

Believe it or not, most people don’t know how to recognize muscle tension, let alone how to command them to relax! Learning the difference between tension and relaxation will help.


Progressive muscle relaxation or PMR works through each of the muscle groups by first tightening the muscle group, holding it, and then releasing. This way, you learn how to take control of the muscle and recognize the tension. And you learn what it feels like when it’s not.

Actively engaging in progressive muscle relaxation exercises effectively loosens and relaxes the muscles. As with most things, the more you practice them the more impact they will have for you.

Below is the basic script for PMR. Follow each of the steps below for the different muscle groups. As we move through each body part, you will be using the same pattern of tensing and relaxing: When tensing a body part, hold the tension for about 10 seconds. Then let the tension go and wait for another 10 seconds before you repeat. You may notice that you tend to breathe in as you tense and breathe out as you relax. This is the natural rhythm of the body and it is easiest if you keep following this. Breathe in as you tense, and breathe out as you relax.

You may want to make a recording of this – talking yourself through each muscle group so you can follow it without having to keep referring to the script. You can also find samples on YouTube. Here is one: PMR by

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