Are you stressed? When was the last time you took the time to reflect on this?
We’ve all heard it before, stress kills. I don’t mean to be a total downer here, but we do know that chronic stress can lead to several health issues.
As scary as this all sounds, the truth is there are so many helpful resources, techniques, and support out there to help us better manage our stress.
Today, I’m focusing on one technique, and it’s called Guided Imagery. Read through for information on what it is, how it works, it’s many benefits, and find 6 FREE online exercises you can try today.
DISCLAIMER: If you are having intense feelings of stress, anxiety, or any other serious health concern, please speak with a physician or other health-care professional for support.
You should not rely on this information as a substitute for, nor does it replace professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other health-care professional.
Avoid Guided Imagery exercises if you are required to be fully awake and alert (i.e. while driving).
What is Guided Imagery?
Guided imagery (or guided visualization) is an effective stress management technique. It directs your mind to focus on a mental image that makes you feel calm, at peace, and happy. Having your mind focus on such an image can move your attention from negative or stress-provoking feelings to more positive ones.
By practicing guided imagery, you will learn that YOU have the power to change the way you are feeling by simply changing your focus. This revelation will make you feel more empowered and can have a profound effect on your overall well-being.
With guided imagery, you are being guided by a trained narrator to go through this process, making this an excellent technique for beginners.
How Does Guided Imagery Work?
Our mind has a powerful effect on our body.
Take a moment to imagine yourself in the following scenario.
Imagine yourself lying outside, on lush green grass, with the most comfortable blanket underneath you. The sky above you is as blue as ever, the sun is out, but your eyes are protected from the sun’s glare by the shade of the soft curtains of the willow tree you’re under. A warm breeze surrounds you and gently grazes your cheeks, the pleasant singing of birds is what you hear, and the sweetest taste of strawberry lingers in your mouth from that bite you just took from the sweet-smelling fruit.
Now, for a minute or two, think about how you felt as you imagined yourself in this situation – did you feel calm, at peace, relaxed? What did you see, hear, smell, taste and touch?
I’m hoping your experience was positive. The truth is, merely imagining a relaxing and pleasant scenario can make you feel more relaxed. This power of the mind-body connection and this is what you practice with guided imagery.
Benefits of Guided Imagery
Guided imagery is not only an effective stress management technique, but it also has many other, both mental and physical, benefits, some include helping:
- stress-related conditions such as depression, anxiety, insomnia, high blood pressure, or muscle pain (drweil.com)
- become more in tune with your body
- develop greater spirituality
- combat self-destructive behaviours and promote healing
- feel more balanced in life
- It is an effective, accessible, and safe, self-care and personal development technique
And, check out these other, more specific, benefits that research has shown:
- Guided Imagery helps to reduce fear, anxiety and pain in patients having surgery (Tusek, Church, & Fazio, 1997)
- It positively influences children’s activity levels (Guerrero, Tobin, Munroe-Chandler, & Hall, 2013)
- It helps with the pain, function, anxiety, depression, and quality of life of adults with Arthritis and Other Rheumatic Diseases (Giacobbi, Stabler, Stewart, Jaeschke, Siebert, & Kelley, 2015)
- And, it helps to reduce the frequency and severity of chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting in breast cancer patients (Hosseinia, Tirgari, Forouzi, & Jahani, 2016)
6 Free Online Guided Imagery Exercises For Stress Relief
The excellent news is guided imagery exercises for stress relief are readily available online today. Making it easier than ever to practice this technique when dealing with stress.
Here are six exercises I’ve found on YouTube, but there are countless others to choose from. Have a look through, find one that speaks to you, and practice calming your mind and de-stressing from the comfort of your own home!
# 1 – Take 5: The Forest Awakens – Guided Imagery for Stress Relief (verbal, music & nature sounds)
YouTube Channel: UMNCSH [Center for Spirituality & Healing] / Length: 5:43 Minutes
# 2 – A Meditation for Stress Relief & Anxiety: Walk Along the Beach Guided Meditation Visualization
YouTube Channel: Jason Stephenson – Sleep Meditation Music / Length: 24:41 Minutes
# 3 – Guided Meditation For reducing Anxiety & Stress, Sleep Meditation, Guided Visualization for Rest
YouTube Channel: Lauren Ostrowski Fenton / Length: 34:40 Minutes
# 4 – Guided Visualization – A Walk In The Forest – Dr. Fiona Gallacher
YouTube Channel: Brenden Readett / Length: 12:24 Minutes
# 5 – Guided Meditation: Blissful Sunset Beach
YouTube Channel: The Honest Guys – Meditations – Relaxation / Length: 20:08 Minutes
# 6 – Guided Meditation and Visualization for Stress Relief: A Forest Walk
YouTube Channel: Relax For A While / Length: 10:08 Minutes
The next time you are feeling stressed out, and wanting to practice a stress-reduction technique, I hope you give guided imagery a try. You may find it to be beneficial.
The many benefits of guided imagery make it a helpful intervention for many other health concerns – both emotional and physical.
I hope I’ve inspired you to seek out new ways of taking care of your well-being. You owe it to yourself to make your wellness a priority. Here’s to your continued health and happiness <3