The holiday season is in full swing, and as the year comes to a close, the hectic pace can be stressful. Running any kind of errand during the last few weeks of the year becomes an adventure as you see more people out and about trying to purchase gifts, visit family and friends, host family and friends, and purchase supplies for all of the holiday meals and get-togethers. Everyone has their own method for dealing with the holiday season pressures and stressors, and one strategy that might be helpful at this time of year is guided imagery.
Guided imagery is a deep state of relaxation achieved by specific breathing techniques and mental images that reduce stress and feelings of anxiety – think of it as a structured day dream. This process can help with different types of physical and emotional stress by helping the body relax as you are guided along by a recording. Some benefits of guided imagery can include:
- Improved mood by calming, relaxing, inspiring, and motivating
- Reduced feelings of anxiety and depression
- Lower blood pressure
Most guided imagery is practiced using a recording of someone coaching you on your breathing and a mental image designed to reduce your stress levels. By envisioning an ideal place of relaxation (like a cabin in the woods, or a beach) in this almost meditative state, your body starts to physically relax and react as if you are actually in that place.
The more you practice guided imagery, the easier it can become to find your happy place and relax in a stressful environment, giving you a sense of control over your stress and your body’s reaction to it!
Interested in learning more about guided imagery? Check out our cover story from the Winter/Spring 2008 edition of The Motivator, Imagine the Possibilities: An Introduction to Guided Imagery and Its Potential Benefits for Individuals with MS.