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Guided visualization and its effect on stress management and relaxation

Study guide

You may have heard the phrase guided visualization, but do you know what it is, how it works, and why it is useful? We all get stressed sometimes. Many situations in everyday life can cause stress. You may also experience constant stress when faced with challenging long-term life situations. You know that constant stress can have unpleasant consequences and endanger your health. Guided visualization is a way to manage stress. In this article, we will take a closer look at this technique, discussing the effect of guided visualization on stress, its proven benefits, and how to do it right.

What is guided visualization?

Guided visualization is a technique of focused relaxation or meditation. Focused relaxation or meditation means focusing on a specific object, sound, or experience to calm the mind. In the guided visualization technique, you think of a calm place or scenario, and the goal is to create a relaxing state through mindfulness.

The basis of guided visualization technique is that the body responds to thoughts. For example, when you think of a stressful situation, your body and mind become tense. Your heart rate and blood pressure may increase and you may feel angry and lack concentration. If you focus your attention on pleasant scenarios, your mind and body will calm down and muscle stiffness and tension will be reduced. By calming your mind and body, you may be able to cope better with mental, emotional, and physical stress.

According to research, guided visualization can have the following beneficial effects:

  • Reduce stress and anxiety;
  • Strengthen relaxation;
  • Reduce various symptoms caused by stress.

What are the benefits of guided visualization?

According to research, this technique can have a positive effect on your health and well-being in various ways. Here are some of the most important benefits of this technique.

1. Reduces anxiety and stress

There is ample scientific evidence that guided visualization can help reduce feelings of anxiety and stress.

In 2014, an experiment was conducted. A number of women with fibromyalgia (a type of musculoskeletal pain syndrome) were divided into two groups. One group practiced guided visualization every day for 10 weeks, and the other group followed their usual care routine. At the end of the experiment, women who did guided visualization reported significant reductions in stress, fatigue, pain, and depression.

Another study in 2017 compared the benefits of stress-guided visualization with massage therapy and found that 30 minutes of guided visualization had the same positive effects as a 15-minute massage.

A 2018 study found that guided visualization can reduce preoperative anxiety, and a similar study in the same year found that guided visualization reduced pre-test anxiety in students.

۲. Improves sleep

Anxiety and stress can disrupt your sleep. The good news is that, according to several studies, guided visualization can help improve your sleep.

In the 2017 study we talked about earlier, participants who practiced guided visualization reported that their sleep also improved.
A similar experiment in 2015, in which participants were older, showed that mindfulness exercises such as guided visualization could improve sleep quality.

3. Reduces pain

According to research, stress can make your pain worse.

Research conducted in 2017 showed that guided visualization can help manage pain after orthopedic surgery. Interestingly, participants in this experiment reported pain relief along with other benefits such as reducing stress and relieving fatigue. Another study in 2019 showed that guided visualization also reduces postoperative pain in children.

4. Reduces the symptoms of depression

According to a 2014 study, depression is often associated with negative mental images, and positive images created through guided visualization techniques can be helpful and reduce depressive symptoms.

An experiment in 2019 showed that daily guided visualization exercise for a week reduced depressive symptoms in people with cancer. Participants also reported reduced pain and anxiety. Another study showed similar results for depression and anxiety in people on hemodialysis.

How to do guided visualization?

What do we need to start training?

This technique can be done anytime, anywhere and you do not need any special equipment. In general, the following is all you need:

  • A quiet place;
  • Comfortable sofa, bed or yoga mat;
  • Audio recorder and audio file for visualization (optional);
  • Headphones (optional).

How to do the technique

  • Sit or lie down in a quiet and comfortable space;
  • Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. Take deep breaths and exhale and maintain this deep breathing as you continue to work;
  • Imagine a calm landscape such as a lush forest, a magnificent mountain range or a calm and tropical beach, or think of a place in beautiful nature that makes you feel relaxed;
  • Think about the details of the scene you are imagining. Imagine the sounds, smells and other senses of being in this quiet place;
  • Imagine yourself walking in the path of this scene and then visualize in your mind the details that you will see while walking;
  • Rest for a few minutes in this delightful view and continue to take deep breaths;
  • After 15 minutes, count to three and open your eyes.

Tips for beginners

If you have just decided to practice guided visualization, consider the following:

  • If you have never shot one you owe it to yourself to give it a try. When your body is relaxed, your mind relaxes more easily.
  • You can listen to the recorded sound and close your eyes.
  • Choose a quiet place where no one disturbs you.
  • Wear comfortable and loose clothing.
  • Turn off your cell phone and other electronics. If you are listening to the recorded sound on your mobile phone, set it to flight mode.
  • Take a few deep breaths and then play the file. Continue to inhale and exhale deeply as you listen to the sound.
  • Don’t worry about how you work. Calm down, do not try too hard and let this process happen on its own.
  • Guided visualization requires practice. Start with 5 minutes of exercise a day, then gradually increase the time.
  • If you have trouble imagining relaxing scenery and sounds, look at pictures or videos available on the Internet. Find relaxing scenes and pretend you are there.
  • Record your feelings after practicing guided visualization. Over time, you can compare your stress levels to see the effect of guided imagery on stress.

Concluding remarks

Guided visualization is a relaxation technique that helps you manage stress quickly and easily and reduce your tension. Practicing this technique is enjoyable, so even if you have not tried it before, start practicing according to the contents of this article.
Have you practiced this technique too? If you have any experience or opinion about this, let us know in the comments section.

Warning! This article is for educational purposes only and you should consult your doctor or specialist to use it. more information





Guided visualization and its effect on stress management and relaxation

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