Reduce Stress with Guided Imagery

Don't feel guilty about wanting to commit suicide

What is he thinking about?

Guided imagery or creative visualization is a drug-free way to lower stress levels.

Use your imagination to help you calm down and lower stress levels.  Guided imagery, also called creative visualization, is a way to ease your stress without resorting to drugs.  There are many online resources to help you with particular meditations or guided imagery sessions.  Please do not use this article in the place of a medical health professional’s diagnosis.

Stress might at times seem like a purely mental and emotional problem, but it sure leads to physical problems such as high blood pressure, tension headaches, insomnia and digestive embarrassments.  More and more, doctors are saying that reducing stress is a key leg in triangle to keep you healthy (the other two legs being regular exercise and eating sensibly.)  A fun way to reduce stress is with guided imagery, as recommended in January 2008 issue of Mayo Clinic Health Letter.

What Is It?

Guided imagery , when you get right down to it, is nothing more than the power of your imagination.  Another similar term for guided imagery is creative visualization.  However, sometimes our imaginations run away with our common sense.  Guided imagery — like meditation — helps us to channel imagination into helping us heal or to reduce stress.

If your imagination keeps running away on you, then you are probably adding more stress onto yourself that you need to.  This is why some people prefer to use guided imagery instruction tapes, CDs or downloads rather than just do it all themselves.  This way, they don’t have to keep wondering if they are reducing stress with guided imagery correctly.  Worrying about whether you are doing a task right or wrong can be another form of stress you really can do without.

Similar To Guided Meditation

If you have some trouble finding the guided imagery resources you like, then try searching under “guided meditation” instead.  The principles and techniques are very similar.   There is usually more variety in guided meditation products to choose from, as well.  Some will have a spiritual bent, and some won’t.

One place to search for guided meditations — including a potato chip meditation — is at Beliefnet .  (One tip — be sure your pop-up blocker is on before going there!  That will DEFINATELY save you some stress.)

Some Guided Imagery Themes

Have you ever heard of the psychological term, “Are you in your happy place?”  This is where you wish you were rather than where you are currently.  This could be in a hot aromatherapy bath, at a sun drenched beach or in a field with laughing horses (see image above).  Whatever your happy place is, picture it in your mind vividly.  Usually the thought of it will trigger you to breathe deeper and thus relax more with practice.

Another theme is to think of Good Guys vs. Bad Guys.  You picture your stress triggers as Bad Guys — whether they look human, monstrous or like an amoeba — and then have them defeated, arrested or incinerated by Good Guys.  Over time and with practice, just the thought of your Good Guys beating Bad Guys can subconsciously trigger you to relax.

For reducing stress with guided imagery, take a few minutes to contemplate either your happy place, a Good Guy defeating Bad Guy scenario or whatever works for you.  All you need is a few minutes a day.  Breathe deeply and try not to think about anything else.  It’s like watching a movie in your mind’s eye.  Over time, your brain makes the association with your memory of the image with breathing deeply and relaxing.

Guided imagery is not to be used in place of prescribed medications, but can be safely used with conventional treatments. There are no known bad side effects in reducing your stress with guided imagery.


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