You may have heard of practicing guided imagery to relax—but how does it work to lower your stress level? It’s all about the mind-body connection.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, “Imagery can stimulate changes in bodily functions such as heart rate, blood pressure and respiratory patterns.” Our mind and body are connected, so when we visualize or imagine a peaceful scene, our bodies respond as if we are truly there.
Try this—think of a lemon. Imagine the color, scent, taste, feel. Now imagine biting into the lemon. You may notice you start salivating. Our bodies will respond physically just by imagining biting into the fruit.
A recent study looking at the effects of guided imagery on anxiety suggests that visualizing a scene and actual visual perception are processed similarly. Visualizing as many details as possible helps elicit the calming sense of being there in person.
Guided Imagery Exercise
Practicing guided imagery is simple and safe to do.
- Simply close your eyes and imagine a calm, safe space. Maybe this is a beach, the forest, your backyard.
- Focus your attention on as many details as possible. What do you see, hear, taste, smell, feel?
- Create a clear picture in your mind of that safe space and spend a few moments taking slow, deep breaths as you visualize the space.
It is possible to lower our body’s physical symptoms of stress and increase emotional well-being through the power of our mind. Try guided imagery today!
- Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute https://my.clevelandclinic.org/departments/wellness/integrative/treatments-services/guided-imagery
- Patient Education Materials: Guided Imagery https://www.upmc.com/health-library/article?hwid=aa84044spec#aa84044spec-Bib
- Nguyen, J., & Brymer, E. (2018). Nature-Based Guided Imagery as an Intervention for State Anxiety. Frontiers in psychology, 9, 1858. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.01858