A Guide to Relaxation

Looking for a drug-free method to help you relax, free your mind of worries, and fall asleep? Progressive muscle relaxation is a tried-and-true technique for achieving both physical and mental relaxation.

-Lie down on your back in a comfortable position. Put a pillow under your head if you like, or place one under your knees to relax your back. Rest your arms, with palms up, slightly apart from your body. Feel your shoulders relax.

-Take several slow, deep breaths through your nose. Exhale with a long sigh to release tension.
-Begin to focus on your feet and ankles. Are they painful or tense? Tighten the muscles briefly to feel the sensation. Let your feet sink into the floor or the bed. Feel them getting heavy and becoming totally relaxed. Let them drop from your consciousness.

-Slowly move your attention through different parts of your body: your calves, thighs, lower back, hips, pelvic area, middle back, abdomen, upper back, shoulders, arms, hands, neck, jaw, tongue, forehead, and scalp. Feel your body relax and your lungs gently expand and contract. Relax any spots that are still tense. Breathe softly.

-If thoughts distract you, gently ignore them and return your attention to your breathing. Your worries and thoughts will be there when you are ready to acknowledge them.