Therapy in LA
Therapy in L.A.


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September 2003
From Highs! By Joyce Parker, Ph.D.

One way to calm and soothe yourself is to learn the technique of progressive relaxation. These instructions are simple and easy to follow. Find a quiet and comfortable place to do this exercise. ~ Joyce Parker, Ph.D.

  1. Sit in a comfortable position or lie down
  2. Close your eyes and relax. (If seated, place your arms on your lap. Fold your hands loosely together. If lying down, place your hand along your sides.)
  3. Breathe slowly and deeply from the diaphragm.
  4. Concentrate on the muscles at the top of your head. Think to yourself the word relax and consciously relax those muscles. (You may use any gentle or calming word such as serene or restful.)
  5. Once the top of your head is relaxed, bring your attention to your forehead and the area around your eyes. Continue to say relax as you consciously relax these muscles.
  6. Now move to the muscles of your temples and ears. Relax them. Then your sinuses and nasal area. Once these areas are relaxed, go on to the back of your neck. Stay with each muscle until it is tension-free.
  7. Continue to relax your shoulders, arms, hands, fingers, chest, abdomen…all the way down to the tips of your toes.

Note: You can take advantage of the fact that your mind and body will associate the feeling of being relaxed with whatever work you chose for this relaxation exercise. (e.g., “relax,” “peace,” etc.). Next time you’re in a stressful situation, practice deep breathing and silently say the word to yourself. Without moving a muscle, you’ll feel calmer as your mind and body recall the state of relaxation associated with the word.

The author of this article, and founder of the website, Joyce Parker, passed away in 2011. To honor her we are keeping her articles posted at this website.

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