Stress Management Management Techniques Using Guided Imagery for Stress Management By Elizabeth Scott, PhD Elizabeth Scott, PhD Twitter Elizabeth Scott, PhD is an author, workshop leader, educator, and award-winning blogger on stress management, positive psychology, relationships, and emotional wellbeing. Learn about our editorial process Updated on September 19, 2021 Medically reviewed Verywell Mind articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and mental healthcare professionals. Medical Reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more. by David Susman, PhD Medically reviewed by David Susman, PhD David Susman, PhD is a licensed clinical psychologist with experience providing treatment to individuals with mental illness and substance use concerns. Learn about our Medical Review Board Fact checked Verywell Mind content is rigorously reviewed by a team of qualified and experienced fact checkers. Fact checkers review articles for factual accuracy, relevance, and timeliness. We rely on the most current and reputable sources, which are cited in the text and listed at the bottom of each article. Content is fact checked after it has been edited and before publication. Learn more. by Karen Cilli Fact checked by Karen Cilli Karen Cilli is a fact-checker for Verywell Mind. She has an extensive background in research, with 33 years of experience as a reference librarian and educator. Learn about our editorial process Print Using guided imagery, you can see yourself walking down a less stressful path. Robert Deutschman/Getty Images Guided imagery is an effective stress management technique and has remained popular for several reasons. It can quickly calm your body and simultaneously relax your mind. It's pleasant to practice, and not overly difficult or intimidating to learn. If this sounds like something you can use in your life, read more about when guided imagery is used, and how it may be a useful go-to stress reliever for you. Guided imagery can help you to de-stress in minutes, but can also be a useful strategy for maintaining resilience toward stress during difficult times. Guided Imagery’s Effects on the Body Guided imagery has been found to provide significant stress reduction benefits, including physically relaxing the body quickly and efficiently. The studies demonstrating the health benefits of imagery are so numerous that many hospitals are incorporating imagery as an option to help with treatment. Fortunately, it's a simple enough technique that it can be used at home as well, with positive results. What’s Involved? With the help of a guided imagery recording, a professional helper, or just one’s own imagination, those who practice guided imagery get into a deeply relaxed state and envision, with great detail relating to all of the senses, a relaxing scene. This scene may be something in the natural world like a beautiful waterfall in Hawaii with sparkling and refreshing water at the bottom or a cool and dense forest where you may take a calming walk in your imagination. It could also be a relaxing or happy event such as a vividly-imagined scene where you discover a $50 bill on the sidewalk and eat a delicious meal in a restaurant by the beach, or win the lottery and buy whatever you want. Those who use guided imagery for stress relief may also imagine a wise ‘guide’ with them, answering their questions and asking them questions that they must ponder in order to get to a better place in their lives. Get Advice From The Verywell Mind Podcast Hosted by Editor-in-Chief and therapist Amy Morin, LCSW, this episode of The Verywell Mind Podcast shares how to make visualization actually work for you. Follow Now: Apple Podcasts / Spotify / Google Podcasts What Are the Pros? Imagery can provide relaxation, insight, and wisdom. It is a free stress relieving therapy and, with practice, can be done just about anywhere. It can help you to relieve physical tension and psychological stress at the same time, distracting you from what may be stressing you, and getting you into a more positive frame of mind. In this way, it can also be useful in disrupting patterns of rumination and can help you to build resources in your life that increase your resilience toward stress by engaging an upward spiral of positivity. What Are the Cons? Like self-hypnosis, it can take some practice to master autonomous guided imagery. Working with a professional therapist to get to that point can be somewhat costly, but worthwhile. Alternatively, there are many apps you can use to get started. How Does It Compare To Other Stress Reduction Methods? For the benefits it provides, guided imagery is an excellent stress management option. It can be easier than exercise or even yoga for those with physical limitations. It has no risk of side effects like some medical and herbal therapies. Using it for simple relaxation is easy and can be done by just about anyone, but accessing an internal ‘guide’ takes more practice than other methods like progressive muscle relaxation or breathing exercises. It’s similar to self-hypnosis in that you’re getting into a deep state of relaxation. By Elizabeth Scott, PhD Elizabeth Scott, PhD is an author, workshop leader, educator, and award-winning blogger on stress management, positive psychology, relationships, and emotional wellbeing. 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