Using Visualization to Reduce Anxiety |||amp; Increase Relaxation
- Find a quiet and comfortable space where you know you won't be disturbed for at least 15 minutes. Make yourself comfortable in this space in whatever way is easiest for you. You may choose to have calming music playing in the background if you wish
- Close your eyes and take about 10 relaxing breaths in through the nose, and out through the mouth
- Imagine in your mind's eye a blank, white movie screen
- After you picture or imagine this movie screen, begin to visualize a relaxing scene that may have some special meaning for you. This can be as simple or complex as you wish. Take your time. Some possible ideas include: a forest glen, the ocean, a deserted island, your own bathtub, floating on a cloud, a garden, a waterfall, etc.
- If you wish, use your senses to fully create this scene. What might it smell, sound, feel, and taste like?
- Once you have this clear in your mind, project yourself into the movie screen until it becomes clear and vivid--as if you were actually in the scene you have just created
- Enjoy and explore this sacred space you created. Decide on a word that best captures the experience. It can be a description of what you are feeling (e.g., peace, joy, relax, freedom, etc.) or of what you call this place. Use this label every time you visualize this scene
- When you are finished visualizing, imagine yourself back in the room you started in. Take a few more breaths and open your eyes when you are ready
- This is probably the most important step! Practice, practice, practice! Practice this visualization on a daily basis. Eventually your body will naturally respond to the word you chose earlier
- When you notice yourself becoming anxious, stressed, or when you need a quick "break", take three deep breaths, call up the word and image you have spent time creating, and allow the anxious feeling to fade into your image/word. After some time your body will respond rather quickly to the positive association you have with your chosen word and visualization
- Enhance the experience by using "Abdominal Breathing"
- This technique works great as a preventative. If you catch yourself having anxious thoughts, immediately bring to mind your word/visualization. If you do this every time, the chances of getting more anxious over time will reduce
- Don't rush the experience when you first start out. Treat this time as a sacred moment between yourself and your desire to increase your overall well-being
- It's ok if your mind wanders while you create your visualization, simply bring your attention back to your image
- If you have a hard time "picturing" the scene, involve more of your senses in the creation of your sacred space
- With practice, it will take less and less time for you to visualize the scene to create a noticeable change in your body and mind
How to do Abdominal Breathing
When we're stressed and/or anxious our breathing often changes without our realizing it! Often we breathe in a shallow way (chest breathing) that can cause anxiety and sometimes panic to emerge. Changing the breath can change how you feel. Follow this simple, easy to do, and effective breathing technique to gain control of your anxiety, panic, or stress. It will also help you to be more present within your own body.
2. Hand Placement: Place one hand on your chest and another on your stomach, roughly over your belly-button.
3. Conscious Breathing: Take a few relaxing breaths (3-5), just noticing the rising and falling of your two hands
4. Breathe In: After the 3-5 breaths, take a breath in through the nose and intentionally push out your stomach, away from your spine. Make sure that when you do this your top hand remains motionless and your bottom hand is moving forward.
- Once you do get accustomed to this way of breathing, you will no longer have to use your hands as guides.
- The more conscious you are of your breath, the more mindful you will become in general.
- Use this breathing technique before any relaxation/meditation technique you may like.
- Breathe at your own pace.
- As a way to increase mindfulness, see how many times throughout your day you are breathing in without taking a full breath. Every time you catch yourself breathing in that way, take two mindful abdominal breaths.
- Check with your doctor if you have any respiratory issues that you feel need to be addressed before taking on any breathing technique.