There is a lot that can be said about guided imagery and using this technique to lower stress. Medical research about this relaxation technique is ongoing, and many publications have been written extolling the health benefits. We learn from the field of medicine that imagery is the most fundamental language our body uses. When we are thinking about an event—past or present, we are thinking in images—almost like a movie taking place in our mind.
Let’s learn how to put this guided imagery technique to an effective way to stop the stress from destroying an otherwise good day. Focusing on pleasant images can stop increased levels of stress and anxiety. Taking a break from worrying allows the brain and body to relax, as you you’re your thoughts to more pleasant memories and inspiring possibilities.
Here is how to put this guided imagery technique to work. Find a photograph or image of one of your favorite relaxing places. It might be a beach or quiet mountain spot. I often choose a photograph like this one that reminds me of a visit to a beach where I can remember the sound of the ocean and the feeling of the soft sand. Here is a photo of one of my favorite places--the beach in Ohahu, Hawaii. Just looking at it brings back wonderful and relaxing memories.
Now, to start, find a quiet room and sit in a chair with your hands in your lap and your feet on the floor. Close your eyes and imagine yourself at that relaxing location. Take a deep breath. Feel your chest and abdomen expand, and hold for three seconds. Then slowly exhale over five seconds. Wait three seconds, and then repeat. Consider how you feel at this location. Is it warm on your skin? What smells are in the air?
Allow yourself 10-15 minutes quietly relaxing as your mind wanders through the nooks and crannies of this location and you allow yourself to re-experience the sensations your body feels. Take another deep breath. Deep breathing forces your mind to relax, delivers more oxygen to your bloodstream, and stops the increased production of stress related hormones.
The mind is a powerful influence on the physical body. With over 10,000 thoughts passing through your brain each day, consider the importance of focusing on the positive. If you are worrying, experiencing anxiety or feeling anger, the images that will be dominant in your brain represent these negative emotions. Having these negative images receiving the most attention increases the likelihood of you being an unhappy person.
Take a break when negative thoughts are crowding out thoughts that can keep you calm, confident and feeling a sense of control over your life situations. Using this relaxation technique can change your mood and replace anxious thoughts with more positive feelings such as safety, love and happiness.
Here is a photograph I took when visiting Hawaii and enjoying the flamingos taking it easy by a stream. Remembering the fun of seeing their interaction takes me away from worrying about the article deadlines I may have looming in the near future.
People also use guided imagery to boost self confidence, reach personal goals and manage physical pain. However, allowing this technique to stop the increased feelings of stress and anxiety from dominating your thinking and controlling your emotions is great start. Having control over how you are reacting to the world around you, and learning how to feel relaxed is a great accomplishment in this over scheduled busy world.
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