• Shared by Erin Matthews, LSW

    Student Assistance Program Liason

    The COAD Group


    Coping Skills Home Practice:  Progressive Muscle Relaxation




    Benefits of Progressive Muscle Relaxation: Progressive muscle relaxation is a technique that can help relieve stress and anxiety.  The technique focuses on the tensing and relaxing of all muscle groups, one at-a-time.  You may choose to listen to soft music as you practice this technique, or you may find that it relaxes you best to practice in quiet.

    Steps for practicing Progressive Muscle Relaxation:

    • Sit or lie down in a comfortable position. Take a deep breath in through your nose, filling your stomach with air (like a balloon).    Exhale through your mouth.  Take 3 deep breaths.


    • Start with the muscles in your face Raise your eye brows as high as you can for 5-10 seconds, then relax.  Next, close your eyes tightly for 5-10 seconds, then relax.  Next, scrunch your nose for 5-10 seconds, then relax.  Frown as hard as you can for 5-10 seconds, then relax.  Clench your jaw for 5-10 seconds, then relax.  Tense and release each of these facial muscles 3 times.  Notice the difference in feeling when you tense the muscles in your face and when you relax them.  Focus on the relaxed feeling.


    • Move to your neck and shoulders Raise your shoulders up to your ears, hold for 5-10 seconds, then relax.  “Make a muscle” tensing your bicep on both your left and right arms, hold for 5-10 seconds, then relax.  Next, lower your chin slowly toward your chest and hold for 5-10 seconds.  Raise your head slowly, and relax.  Repeat each exercise 3 times.


    • Hands Clench your hand into a fist and squeeze like you’re squeezing a lemon.  Hold for 5-10 seconds, then relax.  Rotate your wrists in circles, then reverse and move your wrists in the opposite direction.    Repeat each exercise 3 times.


    • Abdomen Tighten your abdomen muscles and hold for 5-10 seconds.    Repeat 3 times.


    • Legs Tighten your thigh and quad muscles above your knee and hold for 5-10 seconds, then relax.  Next, tighten your calf muscles behind your shins, hold for 5-10 seconds, and then relax.  Repeat each exercise 3 times.


    • Feet Point your toes away from you and hold for 5-10 seconds.  Point them towards you and hold for 5-10 seconds.  Carefully rotate your ankles in a circle.    Rotate your ankles in the opposite direction.  Relax.  Repeat each exercise 3 times.  Focus on the relaxed feeling!


    For Middle School and High School students:

    “My Calm Place” card deck combines yoga, meditation, mindfulness and guided imagery activities to calm emotions and promote self-regulationPractice strategies from “My Calm Place” card deck:

    • “Tree Pose”: Stand tall like a tree.  Put your foot on the inside of your thigh or on your ankle, place your hands together.  Balance and collect your thoughts.  Breathe and repeat on the other side.


    • “Move around the Clock”: Shift your weight while sitting by imagining your hips circling a clock.  Moving slowly 12 to 3 to 6 to 9.  Move across 2 to 8 to 4 to 10.  Move your way around the clock.


    • “The Open Sky”: When you feel cramped, stretch out your fingers.  Imagine an open sky or field.    Imagine your breath filling each part of you with space as open as the sky.


    For Middle and High School students:

    “Growing Mindful” card deck provides unique mindfulness activities to teach awareness, how to be present in the moment, and cultivate kindness and curiosity.  Practice strategies from “Growing Mindful” card deck

    • “Gratitude Mantra”:  Bring to mind something you are grateful for.  Silently repeat this while holding the image in your mind.  How do you feel?


    • “Color by Number”: Look out the window and notice what you see in nature.  Notice and count each color in your field of vision.


    • “WWW”: Reflect on the day so far and ask What Went Well?

     Positive Coping Strategies/Fun Activities: Choose a few activities you would like to do this week...

    Listen to music mindfully

    Go for a walk, run or bike ride

    Lie down and look at the clouds, find different shapes


    Draw, Paint


    Play in instrument

    Spend some time outdoors, enjoy nature

    Spend time with a pet

    Play a game

    Write a story about a fun memory you have


    Send a card or letter to a friend or family member (through the mail)

    Practice a sport outside

    Make a meal for your family

    Practice breathing, relaxation techniques

    Listen to Guided Meditation

    Write something you are grateful for each day

    Send a thank you note or card

    Call a friend or family member (on the phone) just to say hi

    Practice an instrument and then record yourself playing; share with family and friends

    Play a game with friends or family through video chat

    Organize or clean your room

    Watch a funny movie

    Send a video message instead of a text

    Draw or color a picture and send a “picture card”…“Thinking of You”, “Happy Birthday,”etc.