According to the Holistic Online website, the average person has about 10,000 images going through his or her mind every day. That is a bunch of thoughts isn’t it? And studies show that a whopping half of them are probably negative, like being worried about an upcoming test, paying bills, medical exams, and other things. The more we worry about things, the more likely we are to experience tangible health issues like headaches, anxiety, heart issues, and ulcers. The key then, is to find ways to stop the negative thoughts and images while focusing on the positive ones as much as possible.
This concept is hardly new. Guided imagery has been around for thousands of years and is part of many other cultures and religions around the world. Navajo Indians practice a form of guided imagery that involves having people “see” themselves as healthy. And as far back as Hippocrates and Aristotle it was believed that thinking strongly about a disease would cause symptoms of that disease to occur.
So, how can we use guided imagery to help alleviate anxiety and stress? It’s definitely something that everyone can learn to do, but it does take a little time to make sure you are doing it correctly. Most experts suggest practicing guided imagery for about 15 to 20 minutes a day, just to be sure you’re doing it correctly. As you get better at it, you can probably get by with just a few minutes at a time or as needed.
Wear comfortable clothes when first learning to do guided imagery and sit in a comfortable chair. This way your physical body will be relaxed along with your mind. Again, over time you’ll be able to do guided imagery no matter where you are or what you are wearing. The basic premise of guided imagery is to think about and literally visualize a goal or something that you want to achieve, then imaging yourself actually doing it successfully. If you are anxious about an upcoming plane trip, you can imagine yourself getting on the airplane and feeling calm, sitting down and buckling in your seatbelt, and then visualize the plane taking off while you are sitting calmly in your seat, enjoying the flight.