Have you heard the phrase, “Seeing is believing?” When it comes to stress management, positive visuals can play an important role. Like deep breathing, guided imagery is a relaxation technique proven to lower blood pressure and reduce stress. With multiple versions to choose from, it's an exercise that can be tailored to fit your individual needs. “There are some that are very specific. They take you to a beach, a forest, a mountain, or some other place. Some are less concrete, and some others are … sort of fanciful in nature,” explained Dr. Duane DiFranco, senior medical director, Health Care Value at Blue Care Network. The most important part is finding one that encourages you to embrace the journey. There are different outlets that offer convenient forms of guided imagery. The most popular being audio books because some provide exercises that can be paired with therapy. This practice is viewed as a long-term approach to stress management as opposed to a short-term fix. On the latest episode of the A Healthier Michigan Podcast, hosted by Chuck Gaidica, DiFranco conducts a guided imagery exercise and recommends resources to kickstart your road to relaxation. [podcast_player] Before starting, it’s important to be as physically comfortable as possible. “You may, for example, choose to loosen your belt, unbutton your collar, perhaps take off your shoes,” DiFranco said. “You can lie down or sit. If you're sitting, sit with your feet flat on the floor, and your back comfortably upright, supported by your chair. Place your hands, fists open and palms down, on your thighs, and close your eyes.” The act of guided imagery encompasses deep, gentle breaths. Inhale all the way into your waist, then exhale slowly. “Breathe in over five seconds and breathe out for five seconds… With each breath in, calm peace fills you. With each breath out, you feel unnecessary tension leaving your body. Let that tension go. Let it evaporate into nothing.” Guided imagery doesn’t require participation as much as surrender and imagination. Simply follow the flow of your teacher. Allow their words to paint a picture that your mind will bring to life. Recommended titles/authors:
- 10 Minutes to Relax by Paul Overman (iTunes, Amazon)
- Stop Panic – Guided Imagery Series by Marianne Zaugg,
- Stress Stop: Stress Management Training by Stuart McCalley, M.D.
- The Feeling Good Handbook and Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy by David Burns
- The Relaxation and Stress Reduction Workbook by Matthew McKay, Martha Davis, etc.
Want to know more about stress management? Visit these blogs:
- The Key To Conquering Stress
- Just Breathe: Go from Stressed to Serene
- Defining Stress: The Good, The Bad, The Unhealthy
Photo credit: Deagreez