In times of stress and anxiety, we feel the world is overwhelming us. Like it's impossible to get out of the situation we are in. Perhaps you're experiencing a fast heartbeat, general nervousness, the inability to sleep, or one of the other signs of anxiety? You're not alone. We've all had times where it's just a little too much.
And it's in those times that we need to take a step back and get away from it all. That's where visualization for stress relief comes in. And it is one simple technique that you can use no matter where you are.
What is visualization?
Visualization is an age-old technique that helps you mentally transport yourself away from the physical world. Using mental imagery and meditation, you can reduce symptoms of anxiety and find mental balance.
The technique allows your mind to focus on something other than the physical here and now. You disengage from the stressors of everyday life and bring yourself a new calming world where you can find peace and serenity.
Never underestimate the power of the mind. Look around you. The human imagination created this entire world.
You may think that visualization is nothing more than daydreaming, but the truth is it is so much more. Harnessing the power of your mind, you can reduce stress, calm your anxiety, and find focus.
Visualization has even been used by athletes to boost their physical abilities through focus and determination. It’s been proven that mental practice can have a direct impact on physical strength.
Coronavirus and visualization
As we go through these tough times of lockdown during the current COVID-19 pandemic, you may find your anxiety intensified. Physically, you can't step away from all those stressors. Nor can you freely engage in essential stress-relieving activities that you usually would.
Depending on how strict your lockdown is, you may be required to stay home at all times. While essential, staying safe at home is challenging for your mental health and well-being. We're all feeling the increased strain from social isolation.
Visualization, used alongside other stress-relieving techniques, help you focus on something different than the challenges and confines of lockdown. It transports you from where you are to a place of tranquility.
How does visualization work?
Dive deeper into your mind; visualization works by actively engaging the brain and directing it so that you can achieve your goals. Essentially, visualization involves three steps:
- Breathing. First and foremost, your body needs oxygen to function. During anxiety and especially panic attacks, you may notice yourself hyperventilating. This upsets your oxygen balance in the body. So, the first step is to restore it. Breathe in and out deeply, holding your breath for a few seconds before releasing. After a couple of minutes, you will find a rhythm. You will become calmer.
- Mental picturing. The active part of the visualization. It is at this stage you build the image in your mind. Start with the bigger picture – Where are you? What do you see? – Then fill in the details – What is under your fingertips? What details do you notice that makes this image real to you? The aim here is to make your visualization as detailed as possible.
- Feeling. Lastly, focus on how you feel in the world you have constructed. Imagine the smells and sounds around you. Think about how the world feels to your body. Perhaps you are dipping your toes in the water? Perhaps you feel the rain on your skin? Emerge yourself in that thought fully and completely.
This is visualization. Once you have reached the final level, stay there for as long as you need. Enjoy this experience. Envelope yourself in calmness and tranquility. This is your world, your safe place.
Three simple visualization places
Don’t know where to go on your adventure? We’ll help you. Here are three simply perfect scenarios that will transport your way from where you are into a land of beautiful imagination.
The beach at sunset
Imagine yourself on a warm sandy beach. It is sunset and the sky is filled with rusty tones of orange and red. You look out to the ocean. What do you see and feel around you? Focus on these elements:
- Sand under your toes
- Water lapping against the shore
- Crashing waves
- Scent of the sea breeze
- Seagull cawing overhead
A park bench in the summer rain
Think of the quiet of a park. Imagine yourself sitting on a shaded wooden bench beneath the trees. It has started raining. What is going on around you? How do you feel? What do you see? Direct your focus to these details:
- Rough wooden bench underhand
- Droplets of water as they fall from the leaves onto your skin
- Smell of wet tarmac and grass
- Pleasant chill in the warm autumn air
- Fluffiness of your favorite jumper as it keeps you warm and safe
A quiet meadow
Summer is coming, you are in the middle of a gorgeous meadow filled with grass that is just a little bit too long and wildflowers that spread across the land. There is not a soul for miles, just you and nature. Imagine, what do you see there? How do you feel? Direct your attention to these elements:
- Feel of the grass on your skin as you lay looking at the sky
- Blue tones of the summer sky and fluffy clouds that form shapes
- Smell of the dry grass and scent of the spring flowers
- Ribbit of a distant frog as it finds its way to the river
- Rustling of the trees in a light breeze
These are our favorite scenarios; we hope you’ve enjoyed them. But visualization doesn’t stop there. You can use your creativity to create your own safe space. Your mind is your limit.
What else can you use visualization for?
Just as can be used as an escape from the pressures of the world, this technique can be engaged to focus your thoughts and achieve amazing things. By simulating experiences in your mind, you can achieve greater results in the physical world. Visualization can be used for:
- Improving sports performance
- Increasing skills in chess and strategy games
- Focusing the mind during exams
- Getting a promotion at work
- Boosting your confidence
- Reducing social anxiety
It is a multi-functional technique that can help you gain and maintain control even when the world seems to be spinning out of order. So, before you let anxiety take over, step back, sit down, and engage in a little visualization.