Positive Imagery Relaxation For Anxiety and Stress Relief

As the rain and wind batter my office window, how I wish I could be back in the sunny, relaxing New Forest. Last year, we headed over to the New Forest for a family holiday and it was one of the most calm and relaxing experience that I can remember. To avoid the heat I would rise early, get my trainers on and head out into the forest.

I just loved the quietness and the tranquility of being around nature, watching the wild horses and deer, exploring green paths and being in no hurry to be somewhere else. It was pure bliss (perhaps apart from the time I got lost in the forest for a few hours!!). I think we all love getting away from our usual routines and the demands of everyday life and having some quality time to switch off and unwind.

And let's face it, with the busy lives we all live, where there's always something else that needs doing and where we can feel mentally connected and switched on from the moment we wake, it can be hard to find time to relax well. Whether you want to combat anxiety and stress, curb overthinking, sleep better, perform better cognitively or just feel better physically and mentally, then taking time to relax is important. Yet it often seems like the thing on your to do list that you never get to and that gets sacrificed for other things.

And whilst many of us find time to relax physically, such as watching a good film, our mind is still whirring away and busy with it all. And, of course, you don't want to have to wait until you go away to mentally feel better. You can easily build it into your day and, by making it a priority to take care of yourself, you'll likely find yourself feeling more uplifted in your mood, more calm and relaxed, more able to think clearly and make good decisions and more free of tension and stress.

Even better, relaxation is a skill that you get better at through deliberate practice. So whatever your starting point, you will get better at being mentally calm and physically relaxed and those positive benefits will reverberate into every aspect of your life. 

Positive imagery relaxation hypnotherapy ely 

 

Relaxation For Anxiety & Stress Relief

There are many physical and mental health benefits that come from relaxation. Being able to relax effectively can help you to lessen negative feelings, like stress and anxiety. It can interrupt intrusive thoughts and any overthinking. It can clear you mind, release any physical tension and improve your sense of well-being. 

And through regular and consistent practice you can benefit not only when you deliberately use relaxation techniques and strategies, but also more generally too. You'll find yourself feeling calmer and being able to draw upon your practice when in real life situations too.

A ten year systematic review of relaxation training for anxiety, (Manzoni et al. Relaxation training for anxiety: a ten-years systematic review with meta-analysis, 2006), found "consistent and significant efficacy of relaxation training in reducing anxiety...post-treatment anxiety is lower than baseline level and relaxation training outperforms control conditions on anxiety-specific measures."

Of the different relaxation techniques available, one of my favourites is to use positive imagery.

In his book, In the Mind's Eye, Lazarus describes how he used positive imagery to help a with a client with high blood pressure. Twice a day his client was to close his eyes and imagine visiting one of three different scenes that produced feelings of calmness and tranquility.

I often use imagery-based techniques with my clients so I like this relaxation method a lot and have outlined it in more depth for you below so that you can get all the mental health and physical benefits from relaxing well. 

 

Positive Imagery Relaxation

Before beginning, have a think of three positive scenes or places that you associate with feelings of calmness, relation and tranquility. Having those in mind, now follow these steps to help you benefit from positive imagery for relaxation:

1. Sit somewhere quiet, take a deep breath and close your eyes. If you know self-hypnosis or meditation techniques you could incorporate these here. Start to extend your out breath and say the word 'relax' to yourself on every breath out. You could tense and relax each part of your body or tell yourself that each part of your body is relaxing. You could imagine a calm colour or sensation spreading through you or fill your mind with a relaxing sound. You could engage your imagination and imagine being in a remembered or created place of calmness, seeing the sights and hearing the sounds. Or you can draw upon and utilise any other ways that allow you to feel comfortable, calm and relaxed. Your aim here is just to feel as safe, calm and comfortable as you can right now.

2. Now, bring to mind one to the positive scenes you thought of before you began. It could be a place you've been and remember, or just imagine and create in your mind a place that you associate with feelings of calmness and tranquility. 

Imagine being there now, seeing what you would see, hearing what you would hear and start to connect to those feelings of calmness and inner peace. As you imagine being there, as if you were there right now, notice the colours, shades of light and the details. Be aware of the sounds nearby and any further away. Imagine being there as vividly as you can and enjoy this experience.  

As you relax in this place, bring the calmness and relaxation to the front of your awareness. Notice where in your body you feel the most relaxed, and then spread it to the rest of your body. Be aware of how you experience being relaxed and let it grow. Really tune in and notice how you experience these good feelings of relaxation and tranquility. Notice the thoughts you think when you feel this way and the kind of things that drift through your mind. If your mind wanders off at any point while you relax, gently bring it right back to this positive scene in your mind.

3. When you have enjoyed long enough relaxing in this first scene, spend a few moments just observing your breathing. Just watch your breathing as you relax, the rise and fall that happens so automatically. You can say the word 'relax' to yourself with every out breath and really enjoy this moment of contentment and peace.

4.  Repeat the previous two steps with your second scene of relaxation, and then the third. Take your time and enjoy it and really experience the relaxation that comes from imagining being in this positive imagery.

5. Having spent time imagining this scenes and building up a sense of calmness and tranquility, give that feeling a colour and then make it brighter and spread it throughout your body. If that feeling has a sound for you, let it resonate throughout you. Imagine the feelings of relaxation, calmness and tranquility are growing and developing. Let it happen, believe in it and let those feelings build and grow stronger. 

With those feelings, start to think about some aspects of your life where you'll benefit from feeling more calm, relaxed and at peace. Start to imagine taking this relaxation into many aspects of your life in ways that will be beneficial to you. Feeling more relaxed, your mind more clear, feeling physically more at ease. Really think to yourself and know that you are benefiting from the time you have spent imagining positive imagery and developing feelings of calmness here today.

6. Then, when you have enjoyed spending long enough creating and strengthening these good feelings, to bring this relaxation process to an end, take a deep breath, count up from 1 up to 3 inside your mind and then open your eyes and reorient yourself to your surroundings.

If you'd like me to guide you through this awesome process of calmness and relaxation then do check out this hypnosis download that does just that: Positive Imagery Relxation Hypnosis Download.

Relaxation is not something you can do once and then forget about, at least not if you want to feel better physically and mentally. So set aside ten or so minutes, once or twice a day to support your mental health and well-being. The more you do this consistently, the greater the positive benefits you'll achieve and enjoy. You can use the same positive scenes each time or vary them. Really build this into your days and I think you'll like the positive results you enjoy in yourself and into many aspects of your life. 

To your successful relaxation,

Dan Regan

Online Skype and Zoom Hypnotherapy  

Face-to-face Hypnotherapy in Ely & Newmarket

 

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Reference: Manzoni, G.M., Pagnini, F., Castelnuovo, G. and Molinari, E., 2008. Relaxation training for anxiety: a ten-years systematic review with meta-analysis. BMC psychiatry8(1), pp.1-12.