Imagining Your Way to Total Relaxation “Picture yourself lying on a sunny beach, listening to the sounds of the ocean…” If someone has suggested this to you or if you’ve actually tried it, then you’re familiar with a technique called visual imagery. But there’s much more to this mindful, creative practice than a tongue in cheek suggestion. Trying it just might improve your emotional and physical health.

Trick Your Brain

Consider visual imagery a brain trick. When you practice visual imagery, you create a strong, imagined picture in your mind, effectively tricking your brain into believing that something is actually happening. Visual imagery experts experience smells, sounds and even physical sensations as if what they’re imagining is actually taking place. Are there reasons to fool your brain in this way? Definitely! By imagining what you want in life, you begin to believe it’s possible. And believing you can is most of the battle!

Read Your Way

When you’re engrossed in a great novel or history book, your brain easily takes you right into the setting and your senses accompany you. For this reason, teachers use visualization techniques in classrooms to help students become stronger readers. When children create and register mental pictures or “videos” while reading, they comprehend more and are more excited by the process. 

Relax & Problem Solve

Ever have someone tell you to go to your happy place? It turns out they were right. Psychologists say when you interrupt a stressful day or time with soothing mental images and relaxing time-outs, it can help regulate your moods and even increase your energy level.

Visual imagery can also stimulate the creative process and help with problem solving. Imagine having a specific conversation about your concerns with someone who is totally helpful, wise and calm. In your mind, go over the specifics of the challenge you’re facing and imagine how that figure would respond to you in their words and with their expressions. Imagining this interaction prepares you to remain calm and expect the best when it actually occurs.

Imagining Your Way to Total Relaxation

Help Yourself Heal

With “active visualization” or “directed imagery,” a trained professional guides people with health conditions to become a more active participant in their medical care by visualizing the reduction of symptoms, stimulating healing and changing unhealthy habits or behaviors. Visualization has been successful for people who want to quit smoking or pregnant women looking to holistically reduce medical interventions during childbirth or control childbirth-related fear.

Want to give visual imagery a go? You’re only limited by your own imagination! If you prefer the guidance of a professional, check out the Academy for Guided Imagery. This organization educates professionals on techniques and provides a plethora of information for anyone interested in visualization research, case studies and tools.