Creating a Toolbox for Anxiety (Continued)

Updated: May 30

By: Marie Hartzel, LPC, LCADC, ACS



Progressive Muscle Relaxation



When we are stressed and anxious, we naturally tense our muscles. Progressive muscle relaxation makes use of this natural reaction. To start, pick a relaxing and quiet place then practice slow breathing. Close your eyes and let your body relax. Start with the following steps:


Step 1 - Apply muscle tension to a specific part of the body. For example, start with your right hand, take in a deep breath and then tense up for muscle as hard as you can for 5 seconds.


Step 2 - After tensing the muscle for 5 seconds, quickly start relaxing the tense muscle. Exhale as you are doing this step. Stay relaxed after this step for about 15 seconds. Also helpful if you use calming words during this step such as “relax”. Do the above steps in the following order:


1. Right hand and forearm.

2. Right upper arm.

3. Left hand and forearm.

4. Left upper arm.

5. Forehead.

6. Eyes and cheeks.

7. Mouth and jaw.

8. Neck.

9. Shoulders.

10. Chest and stomach.

11. Hips and buttocks.

12. Right upper leg.

13. Right lower leg.

14. Right foot.

15. Left upper leg.

16.Left lower leg.

17. Left foot.


You should feel relaxed. Remember when your body is relaxed, you cannot feel anxious. This technique can also be used to help with sleep issues. It’s worth a try and with practice, can be added to your tool box.


Keep checking in regularly and more will be posted that you can add to that tool box. Just remember that these tools need to be practiced in order to be effective. Don’t give up and keep trying.

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