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Using Visualization to Curb Stress and Anxiety

Our minds are a power tool, however, sometimes that powerful tool gets the best of us and we lose control of it. Stress and anxiety are especially crippling when it comes to harnessing our mind’s full power—making us only focus on the worst-case scenarios instead of the best-case ones. Reclaiming the power of our minds isn’t always easy, but there are exercises we can practice to have better control. One of those exercises is visualization.

What Is Visualization?

Visualization works to expand your ability to rest and relax by focusing on calming images. Most of us daydream, right? Visualization is like that, but with more of a purpose. When you daydream you aren’t really focused, you just go where your mind takes you. With visualization you are zeroed in on a specific scene and how it makes you feel.

Getting Started

  • Make sure your environment is right. Pick a spot that is quiet and comfortable with limited distractions—TV, pets, spouses, kids, co-workers etc.

  • No phones. We are practically glued to them but try to keep it out of reach while you are calming yourself down.

  • Comfort is key. Make sure your clothes are comfy too! If you are wearing anything restrictive—a belt, scarf, button up shirt or jacket either remove them or loosen them.

  • Begin. Now that you’ve gotten the prep complete it is time to start. First, either sit or lie down—whatever feels most comfortable to you. Now slow your breathing and start taking deep breaths. Close your eyes and let anything heavy on your mind go relaxing your body and mind further.

Pick Your Spot

What is your happy place? Where brings you the most sense of calm and peace? There isn’t really a wrong answer, the key is to pick it out and focus on being there while you breathe and relax.

  • Beach. Think white sand, warm sun and turquoise waters with a gentle sea breeze wresting through palm trees.

  • Mountains. Fresh pine scent, silence other than the occasional bird or squirrel, a babbling stream and wind through the quakies.

  • Lake or ocean. Imagine being on a boat or paddle board and just listening to the lapping of the water against it while waves hit the beach. Think about the gentle motion of being out on the water.

  • Meadow or field. You are out in the wide-open, nothing impeding your vision and completely surrounded by wildflowers. Think about how they smell and let that calm you down.

  • Whatever works for you. Again, there really isn’t a wrong answer, this is all about what brings you happiness and a sense of calm.

A few other things to keep in mind as you start practicing. First, practice makes perfect. The more you practice visualization the better you get at it and the more affective it will be in calming you down when you need it to. Second, it is easier to get started when you aren’t in a high-strung moment of panic. Start practicing while you are calm so you have your system down for when you really need to relax.

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