Tense/relax protocols come from progressive relaxation techniques in which the muscles are alternately tensed and relaxed in order to promote a state of mental and physical relaxation. The mental part of progressive relaxation involves directing attention to the feeling of muscles as they tense and then noticing how the muscles feel as the tension is released and the muscles are asked to let go and relax. The physical component involves the actual tensing and relaxing of the muscles themselves.
Tense/relax techniques are easy to do anywhere and fit seamlessly into any routine or daily activity. That is why they are perfect for desk relaxation in the classroom. Try the following tense/relax routine any time you want to have a short one-minute relaxer prior to initiating seat work.
- Tell your students that you are going to practice the “Pencil Squeeze” in order to relax and get your minds and bodies ready for the task at hand.
- Have them hold a pencil in each hand and ask them to squeeze it very very tight and hold until you tell them to release it. Discuss what they notice.
- Now have them place the pencils on their desk and tell them that you are going to practice the activity with imaginary pencils. Ready?
- Ok, now gently close your eyes and imagine that you are holding a pencil in each hand. Squeeze the pencil very very tight and hold as I quietly count to 10. After counting to 10, tell the students to release the pencils and allow your hands to rest in your lap or on your desk. Feel the warm, tingling feeling in your hands as you allow them to melt right there into the desk, very heavy, very relaxed. Count slowly to 20.
- When you are ready you can open your eyes and know you are focused and ready to get to work!
Variation: Repeat the above sequence with an eraser and call it the Eraser Squoosh.