The Power of Guided Imagery
Every day, people suffer from stress. You may feel the pressure of an upcoming presentation at work, or you may feel like you’re being stretched to the limit between running errands and getting your kids to school and to extracurricular activities. The demands of life can take a toll on your mental health. That is why it is crucial to have a coping method that you can utilize to combat the stress you feel.
Here’s one scientifically proven, effective way to relax: guided imagery.
Guided imagery is a powerful technique that promotes focus and relaxation by using words, images, and your imagination. This exercise encourages you to move away from distractions and stress, and move towards peace, positivity, and a feeling of being grounded. It also gives you an opportunity to strengthen your creativity!
Uses and benefits of guided imagery
Guided imagery can reduce anxiety, depression, help you refocus or “reset” your mind, and help you regain control of your thoughts. In terms of physical health, it can improve your heart rate and blood pressure, reduce pain, and relieve headaches. This technique is great when preparing for an important event, such as a presentation at school/work or playing a sport. It will help you calm down before the event and make you feel more confident about achieving your goal. The best part is that you can do this anywhere, anytime!
How does it work?
Although guided imagery heavily utilizes the brain, it has a powerful effect on the rest of your body as well. Even though you are only imagining yourself in a place where you feel at ease, or imagining yourself succeeding at a goal, your body acts as if it is real. For example, if you picture yourself walking through a quiet forest or smiling proudly after giving a great presentation at the office, your body can react as if you were actually doing this.
How to practice it
1. Find a quiet, distraction-free spot to sit down
2. Close your eyes and slow down your breathing
3. Begin thinking about a place where you feel calm. Or, imagine yourself in the best possible outcome of the situation that’s currently stressing you out.
4. Incorporate sensations—what do you see, hear, feel, or smell?
If you feel yourself needing a “mental vacation” from your busy life, try guided imagery! There are many videos online and phone applications that read guided imagery scripts to you, if you have trouble relaxing on your own. You can also find a script and ask a friend or family member to read it to you; then you can relax together!
(Source: The Health Benefits of Guided Imagery by Molly McShane, MS, CHWC and changetochill.org)