Visualization As Treatment For Anxiety

By: Ian Spencer

There is mention of visualization through this e-book because this is a very powerful tool in replacing negative thoughts with positive ones. It is also one of the best techniques to trigger good feelings and short-circuit anxiety attacks. Did you know that when in danger or acute sadness, human beings tend to curl up in fetal position? Do you know why? This is because this position is associated with the comfort and security that the human beings experienced when they were developing in the womb. The sub-consciousness remembers that time as the ‘most secure and safe’ period and by curling into that position it invokes that memory of feeling good.

You can use this technique to eliminate and/or decrease anxiety from your life. This is something like meditation, but much simpler and as many would tell you, more effective. You need a quiet place where you would not be disturbed for at least half-an-hour. The minimum time you need for this exercise is ten minutes; if it is less, it would not create the intended impact and your effort would be wasted.

The following steps would walk you through the process of visualization:

1.    Be comfortable - sit or lie down in a place where you are completely at ease. You may use a bed, armchair, or even the floor – if you feel good about it.

2.    Relax – will yourself to relax. Start from your toes to your head and order each set of muscles (in your mind) to relax. You would find that concentrating on your breathing (refer to the meditation section) will help you to relax better and faster. In the initial stages, keep one hand on your chest and the other on the abdomen to keep track of your breathing. You would be able to feel the inhale-exhale movement with your hand and therefore, it would be easier for you to concentrate on it. When you breathe correctly, the inhale-exhale movement would be best felt in the movements of the abdomen and not that of the chest. This is known as diaphragmatic breathing and is one of the best ways to induce relaxation or awake the sub-conscious mind. Counting also helps when you perform this technique.

3.    Visualize – choose something that makes you feel happy. This could be anything, anything at all. The only pre-requisite is that it could be visualized vividly. Say, you loved the time when your mother used to bake cakes for Christmas. Close your eyes and imagine the kitchen, see your mum baking, smell the cake in the oven, hear the sound of Christmas songs and so on. You need to involve all your senses and dwell on each of these senses for a while so it would be like you are reliving them in the present. There are two things you need to ensure when you visualize your favorite scene or scenes – (i) it should be completely realistic and natural, and (ii) it should involve all your senses – touch, taste, seeing and hearing.

4.    Make a connection – once you have one favorite scene (or more) and you practice these for a while you are able to “see, feel, touch, hear and smell” them you need to make a connection or a trigger that would help you get “there” whenever you need to relax. This trigger could be anything that is easily accessible to you and involves any of the senses you project in your visualization scene. Say, you could use the smell of a freshly baked cake initially, until you could invoke the beautiful and “happy” scene just by saying ‘cake’. The connection would help you reach there faster. This would be extremely helpful when anxiety hits you all of a sudden and you do not have the ability to retire to a quiet corner to induce this exercise.

5.    Practice – it would take a while until you can recall the ‘safe haven’ at will. Do not get disappointed if initially it is slow in happening. With practice you would not only be able to invoke it vividly, but also so it at will. This is very powerful and effective relaxation tool, which can diffuse anxiety in a matter of seconds once it is mastered.


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