Mindful Visualization- Make Practicing Enjoyable!!!
We all have so many things we are simultaneously juggling these days! Work related stress, COVID concerns, inflation, gas prices, politics, climate concerns, return to school pressures and finding that perfect backpack! What’s a person to do?
One way to help ourselves cope that does not cost any money but rather, just a few minutes of our time, is a mental getaway, to a place in our mind that helps us create that “ahhhh” moment. We all need these moments, especially as life stressors keep piling up. So what are we referring to . . . ?
Learn to practice visualization or recall positive past experiences in the present moment
For example: imagine yourself at an oceanside house that would be perfect for you and your family – you can smell the ocean and hear the waves rolling in and the seagulls cawing. Or you are skiing in the mountains and you see the big, blue sky above you with the green tree line below you and everything else is sparkling white as you listen to the crunch of the snow under your skis and feel the cold, crisp air on your face. Or imagine yourself walking in the fall woods and you witness colorful leaves everywhere, smell the musky scent from the damp leaves and you hear the crunching of crisp leaves under your feet. These are examples of mindful visualization.
Mindful visualization is a powerful technique that can help relieve the symptoms of stress and anxiety. The technique involves using mental imagery to achieve a more relaxed state of mind. Similar to daydreaming, visualization is accomplished through the use of your imagination as well as incorporating your senses.
There are several reasons why mindful visualization can help aid in relaxation and help reduce fear and anxiety. Consider how your thoughts wander when you feel anxious. Your mind may focus on the worry, the worst things that can happen, and other cognitive distortions that only add to your sense of fearfulness. Mindful visualization works to expand your ability to rest and relax by focusing your mind on more calming and serene images. Visualization is effective because it harnesses the power of our subconscious mind.
What are some benefits of visualization?
- It Can Help You Reduce Stress
- Imagination Has No Limits
- It Is a Useful Training Tool for Athletes
- It is a Useful Tool for Writers
- It Gives You a Wider Point of View
- Visualization Can Help You Change Habits.
One of the benefits of practicing visualization to reduce stress or anxiety is that it can be done anywhere or anytime that you are inclined to spend just a few moments focusing on yourself! If possible, make yourself comfortable and ideally, be in a fairly quiet place where you won’t be disturbed. You might take a few deep breaths to help slow your breathing before you begin your visualization or if you are really stressed, try a progressive muscle relaxation exercise before you begin as it might help you focus.
Let’s practice a short visualization exercise. Start by taking a deep, slow breath – in and out – to calm/slow your breathing. Visualize yourself walking on a path in the fall woods on a beautiful fall, cool, crisp day. You immediately notice the fall colors of the leaves – see the red, brown, orange, gold, and green colors surrounding you. Notice that when the sun filters through the canopy of leaves above you, how much more vibrant the colors of those leaves are that are touched by the sun’s rays. As you continue walking, you reach a point on the path where the sun filters all the way down to your feet – now slowly raise your face to the sun rays and feel the warmth on your face. While you are standing on the path, take a deep breath and smell the musky fall smell of damp leaves and moss – the earthy smell is unique to the fall. Continue on the path and listen to the sound of your feet as they crunch the leaves underneath your feet. Take another deep breath and let it out slowly. Good job! You just utilized 4 out of 5 senses and hopefully, feel a little calmer and less stressed after your “walk in the fall woods”. Be creative, practice, use your imagination and enjoy!
-Bonnie Knox, L.C.P.C., C.A.D.C.