Whether we’re going through tough caregiving challenges or simply wanting to slow down during a hectic day, we can benefit from intentional tools and techniques that can help us relax.
Stress relief can take many shapes and forms. Today we’re touching on one: guided imagery.
Guided imagery is a type of focused relaxation technique. Visualization, or guided imagery, invites you to imagine a scene in which you feel at peace, free to let go of all tension and anxiety. This technique allows you to let your worries drift away. Imagine your restful place. Picture it as vividly as you can—everything you can see, hear, smell, and feel.
Some people appreciate imagining a beach while others may choose a mountain view, a favorite childhood spot, or a place they visited during a memorable vacation. The important thing is to choose a location that is peaceful to you. You may like to put on some relaxing music and sounds. (You can find music YouTube, like this one!) You can also find videos, audio, and additional scripts of guided imagery online. For example, for a free download of a Walk on the Beach Guided Imagery exercise online, check out the Powerful Tools for Caregivers website.
Consider doing some guided imagery when you’re waiting for test results, sitting in the waiting room, or lying in bed before going to sleep.
I’m from the mountains, so I created this guided imagery out of love for one of my favorite places.
Make yourself comfortable. Uncross your legs and ankles, relax your arms, and place your hands gently in your lap. Close your eyes as a way of closing out any unnecessary distractions. During the next few minutes, let your worries drift away.
Imagine yourself walking up a wooded path toward the edge of a beautiful mountain overlook.
You hear the ground crunch beneath your feet, the leaves rustle. The grass on each side of the path tickles your legs as you take this quiet walk.
As you get closer to the overlook, the trees part and you look up and notice that the sky is starting to turn a beautiful shade of blue and pink as the sun begins to set. You see a few clouds in the sky, and they start to change colors as well.
As you continue up the path, you can see the distant mountains looking dark blue and green, and you notice their silhouettes as the sun begins to set behind them.
As you get to the overlook, the breeze blows against your face, and you hear the wind as it whistles past you. You take a deep breath. It smells like the forest.
You sit down on the rocks. They feel cool. Little patches of green moss and silver lichens grow in the seams and crevices. You touch the moss and notice how soft it is. A little ant makes its way around the moss and into the dirt at the edge of the rock. You move a pebble out of the ant’s path.
The mountains in the distance look dark and beautiful. The setting sun has turned orange and pink now, and the clouds have turned a bright pink and purple.
You hear birds around you, and a cricket or two.
As you sit in this peaceful place, you notice the harmony of nature around you…the coolness of the breeze, the smell of the woods, the solidness of the rock underneath you, the colors projected on the evening sky. A feeling of peace surrounds you…You take another deep breath.
You sit here and rest a while longer…relaxed in the moment…This is a time of peace and stillness. Listen longer. Relax some more.
When you’re ready, you begin to shift your weight and stand up. You stretch your arms above your head. You look at the view and feel thankful for this time.
You begin to walk back down the path that brought you to this peaceful place.
Take a deep cleansing breath, and open your eyes.
*At the Family House, we are in the middle of a Powerful Tools for Caregivers course, offered to caregivers over a period of six weeks. You can learn more about this evidence-based course online, and you can find out if one is offered near you by calling your local Area Agency on Aging. Among other things, this course addresses the importance of self-care and stress relief.