One of the body’s reactions to fear, stress and anxiety is muscle tension. This can result in feeling ‘tense’, leading to muscle aches and pains, as well as leaving some people feeling exhausted. This exercise uses progressive muscle relaxation to help student notice, release and manage muscle tension and feel less stressed.

Year level



5 minutes


In class activity

Online learning

SEL Competencies


Learning intention

Students are able to execute this exercise to help release tension from their bodies.

Key outcomes

By the end of the lesson, students will be able to:

  • recognise when they are holding tension in their bodies

  • learn how to relax their muscles and release tension.

Materials needed

  • A large enough space for students to lie down. If this isn’t possible then students can sit comfortably in a chair.

Mapped to

Australian Curriculum: General Capabilities

  • Personal and Social Capability:

    • Self-awareness

    • Self-management

  • Critical and Creative Thinking:

  • Reflecting

Show details

Activity 1


5 minutes

  1. Ask the students to lie down without disturbing anyone else.

  2. Explain to the students you are going to lead the group through a simple process of deliberately applying tension to certain parts of the body. They’ll do this by:

    • tensing the muscle as firmly as they can without moving their body

    • breathing in and holding to the count of five

    • letting go and breathing out, noticing how they relax as the tension flows away.

  3. Move systematically through the body. It is usual to start with the hands, work up to the shoulders, and then back to the feet and up to the shoulders again, leaving the face and neck for last. You’ll guide the students through the steps above for each body part.


Muscle relaxation can be an effective way to release tension in the muscles caused by stress and anxiety. When the activity has been completed discuss the following as a group:

  • What are the benefits of using this technique?

  • Can you think of times in your life when you could use this technique to relax?


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