Stress Reduction Series: Part 2 – Visualization

Visualization is a great relaxation tool, especially for those of us who respond well to visual images.  In this technique, you form mental images and take a visual journey to a peaceful, calming, or joyful place.  The place your mind takes you might be real (somewhere you have visited before), or imaginary.  The key here, is to use as many senses as you can, including smell, sight, sound, and touch.  For example, if you imagine yourself in a peaceful rain forest, notice what the air might smell like, what the birds in the trees might sound like, and how the raindrops may feel on your skin.  Once you can place yourself there, really notice the details around you, and how your body feels in that space.  Are your shoulders more relaxed?  What is your posture like?  Try to remember what it feels like in your body, and you can take that feeling with you after the exercise is over.

Some people are able to really imagine themselves in their peaceful place without any outside help.  Others find guided visualization exercises to be more useful.  The good news is, there are a ton of options out there including scripts you can find online (http://www.innerhealthstudio.com/visualization-scripts.html), and apps you can use on your phone anywhere and anytime (www.appcrawlr.com/ios/guided-imagery).

Be patient with yourself.  Remember that relaxation techniques, including visualization, are skills.  It will get easier for you to relax your mind and your body as you continue to practice.

More on relaxation techniques can be found here: http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/relaxation-technique/art-20045368?pg=2