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Progressive Muscle Relaxation

Categories: Anxiety
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Progressive Muscle Relaxation
By Russell Holloway
Christian Counseling Finder Co-founder

A little anxiety now and then is helpful.  When dating my future wife anxiety worked to my advantage because it motivated me to do things young men sometimes overlook, like comb my hair, put on a clean shirt, and brush my teeth, you know, things that seem optional when you’re nineteen years old. 

Anxiety when it is functioning properly motivates us to action. But when anxiety becomes overwhelming it is not a good thing at all.  Persistent anxiety is something we want to overcome.

One biological truth that works to our advantage is that anxiety and physical relaxation are mutually exclusive. Physical relaxation and anxiety cannot exist in the same person at the same time. Therefore, if we engage in ‘healthy’ behaviors that cause the muscles in our bodies to relax, anxiety lessens or disappears. 

One muscle relaxation technique with proven effectiveness in lowering anxiety is Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR).  I like to combine PMR with prayer when I’m anxious or having trouble falling asleep. Although PMR is not a cure for the underlying causes for anxiety, it can help people who suffer from panic attacks, agoraphobia, or other anxiety disorders.

Prayer & PMR Sequence

  1. Prayer: Talk to God from your heart. My prayer usually goes something like this: Father, thank You for being a God who loves me. Please reveal to me what you would like me to learn from you. In Jesus’ name I pray. Your prayer can be long or short. It can include scripture if you like. It is your prayer and your time with God.
  2. Breathe: You can do PMR from almost any position: sitting, reclining, or lying down. Inhale through your nose and focus on the cool air entering your lungs. Hold your breath for a second, then exhale though your mouth, and note the warm air as it exits your lungs.
  3. Tighten Muscles and Release: Start with your feet and then slowly work your way up your body. Tighten individual muscle groups for 15 to 20 seconds, then release. You can tighten individual muscle groups more than once if you like before moving to a different muscle group.
  4. Work through these muscle groups: Feet, legs, gluteal muscles (buttocks) don’t laugh! abdomen, arm muscles, neck, and your face (unless you are at lunch with friends; in that case tightening your face might frighten them).
  5. Practice: I’ve noticed that people get better results if they practice PMR ahead of time before feeling especially stressed.  Having a routine in place before a stressful moment is a big advantage. Practice PMR once a day at a set time and it will be easier to implement when needed.

Remember God loves you. If you need help with overcoming anxiety, use our “Find A Counselor” search function, or contact us through this website. We would love to help.


Russell Holloway is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor in Daytona Beach Florida and Co-Founder of


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