How can using visualization (guided imagery) reduce stress?

Ben Kaminsky
Visualization or guided imagery has been used successfully for controlling emotional distress and anxiety. Ideally, you should use this therapy in a quiet environment without distractions. But to show that it really can diffuse a tense moment, you should use visualization when you are in a confrontation at home or at work, while you’re waiting on the telephone “on hold,” or while you’re sitting in lines of rush-hour traffic.
To Do:

1. Lie on your back or sit calmly in a comfortable chair. Ideally, this should be learned in a quiet room with no distractions.

2. Visualize a peaceful, relaxing scene, perhaps a vacation spot you have enjoyed in the mountains or at the seashore. Blocking all other thoughts, focus on this peaceful retreat and try to recapture the moment as you imagine the sounds, smells, textures, and feelings you experienced.

3. Become aware of your breathing, as you focus on the relaxing scene. Remember to breathe slowly from your abdomen--not chest--inhaling to the count of five, holding for three seconds, and then exhaling to the count of five. Do not let outside stimuli interrupt your imagery time.
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Visualization, or guided imagery, can help reduce stress by distracting you from the stressful element, and by causing a relaxation response in the muscles. Watch sleep expert Michael Breus, PhD, explain how this meditative technique can calm you.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.