What is guided imagery?
Guided imagery is a safe, effective way to find freedom from tension and stress. It focuses on the connection between mind and body, using the imagination to achieve a state of calm or relaxation. Although it is not a substitute for medical treatment, you may use it effectively in conjunction with treatments for many different illnesses.
How can guided imagery help me?
Guided imagery has been used for hundreds of years. Research shows guided imagery can ease pain and nausea, lower blood pressure and heart rate, and improve sleep. Guided imagery is often used for depression and anxiety, to address the effects of cancer treatment, and for chronic pain management.
Steps of guided imagery:
Find a place where you will not be interrupted.
Close your eyes.
Take a few deep breaths and notice your body relaxing.
Picture a scene where you are very relaxed. This scene is often different for different people. Some may choose a setting such as a
beach, forest, or the mountains – whatever is relaxing to you.
Become fully involved in your imagination. Try to use all of your senses. What can you hear? Smell? Touch? See? Staying in this
exercise for 10-15 minutes is ideal, but it can be adapted depending on how much time is available.
Slowly deepen your breaths and bring your awareness back to your body.
When you are ready, open your eyes and notice any relaxation or recharging in your body or mind.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation
Progressive Muscle Relaxation is a mindfulness exercise that is intended to help you slow down, to develop greater awareness of tension in your body and to help you let that tension go. This exercise is useful for relaxing stiff, tired, or overworked muscles and for general relaxation.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation teaches your body to distinguish between tense and relaxed sensations by purposefully tensing and releasing muscles in a systematic way, starting at the feet and working your way up to your head.
How do I practice?
Set aside 15 minutes in a quiet place where you can sit or lay down comfortably.
The first step is to apply muscle tension to a specific part of the body. Focus on one muscle group. For example, your right foot. Next, take a slow, deep breath and squeeze the muscles as hard as you can for about 5 - 7 seconds.
Quickly release the tension, letting the tightness flow out. Exhale as you do this step. It's important to focus on the difference between tension and relaxation. Remain relaxed in this state for about 15-20 seconds and then move to the next muscle group.
Different muscle groups
Lower leg and Foot (tighten calf muscles by pulling toes towards you)
Foot (Curl toes downward)
Entire leg (squeeze the muscles while doing the above)
Repeat on other side of the body
Chest (tighten by taking a deep breath)
Neck & Shoulders (try and raise shoulders upto your ears)
Mouth (open wide enough to stretch the hinges of your jaw)
Eyes (close tight)
Forehead (raise eyebrows as much as you can)
It's important to feel the tension. Your muscles will shake when you do this properly. Be careful not to hurt yourself.