Imagine a situation that an employee in an organization is scheduled to give a presentation to her team members, but she is unable to focus. This is because she is stressed and nervous. The moment she starts to practice, she gets totally blank and cannot utter a single word. In this article, we will discuss about the use of imagery for the purpose of stress management. Here, we will discuss about perception - based strategies to cope with stressful situations.
Since she is having problem in concentrating, she decides to take a break. She closes her eyes and recollects the last time she was in the lap of nature. She thinks about the innocent cries of the birds, breathes the fresh air of the valley, feels the warmth of the sun on her cheek and hears the slow rustle of cedar leaves. Gradually, her countenance relaxes and she loosens up a bit. Now she breathes slowly and feels that she is in control. When she opens her eyes, she realizes that she can remember the lines she had prepared for the presentation. This was an example of using the power of imagination to deal with stress and tension. This process is called ‘guided imagery’.
Guided imagery is a technique to manage stress. By using this technique a person can picture a particular time or place and feel happy. This happiness settles the mind of the stressed person. Imagery is different from other techniques of coping with stress. It relies entirely on the use of senses.
When the employee was thinking about the scenic beauty of nature, she could actually feel the presence of nature around her. By using all her senses she could experience relaxation. Thus, imagery is useful to cope with stressful situations. Imagery can be used to relax in many other ways. One of them is to imagine that stress is flowing out of the body or problems are being thrown into a bin.
Though some people are doubtful about the efficiency of imagery in getting rid of stress, research has proved it to have positive effect on a stressful mind. A research has found that the use of imagery along with stress management techniques and imagery alone has decreased blood pressure of the persons on whom the experiment was conducted. A similar report was found by conducting an experiment on breast cancer patients. Patients who were treated with imagery could cope better with stress and had more energy than those patients who had not been treated with imagery. The quality of life lived by the former category of patients was better than the latter.
Besides, the above mentioned researches there have been successful studies that have proved the power of imagery to cure stress in patients suffering from depression, post-traumatic stress syndrome, occupational stress, abuse and other conditions.
Use of Imagery to Reduce Stress
The following steps will delineate the ways in which stress can be managed.
# Get a peaceful place
An individual who is going through a period of stress needs to find a peaceful place to sit. The person should breathe deeply and slowly. This way, she can calm down and think.
# Select the imagery
Once she becomes relaxed, she should choose a peaceful environment where she imagines herself to be present. This atmosphere can be a past experience or an imaginary place.
The atmosphere that she imagines should be personal enough to draw her towards it. But, if she faces difficulty in thinking of an image, a few examples can help her to make her decision.
- She can imagine that she is sitting on a beach and facing the azure waters. She is sipping coconut water from a coconut and sitting under the shade of a coconut tree.
- She can also imagine that she is looking at a snow clad mountain and sitting on a settee. She has a book in one hand and a coffee mug in the other.
- She can imagine that she has gone on a day out with her best friend.
- She can think that she is sitting in a boat before a waterfall. She is feeling the water drops on her face and absorbing the peacefulness of the situation.
The more a person uses her senses, the more detailed will the imagery be and the more effective it will be. For example, when she is imagining herself on a beach, she should not stop at just that. She should feel the wind on her skin, smell the moist weather and touch the sand on the beach. That means she has to look around the place she imagines herself to be in and use all her senses.
The individual should aim to lose herself in the imagery. Immersing herself means that she should see, touch, taste, hear and feel the elements of the scene. The more detailed and intricate the imagery gets, the more efficacious the technique will be.
# Get into a relaxed mode
The individual should stay in the imaginary scene as long as she wishes to or at least as long as she can. The more comfortable she gets, the more confidence she will ooze once she comes out of the recollection mode. She should breathe deeply and not allow any external thought to enter the reverie.
When she decides to come out of the daydream, she should slowly get back to the present situation. She is now going to feel more relaxed than before and is prepared to handle all challenges.
To Wrap Up
From this article, it can be deduced that by imagining positive and peaceful scenes a person can get rid of low confidence and stress. After coming out of her reverie she will be in a better position to deal with tension and nervousness. If she cannot imagine a situation or recollect a scene from the past that makes her happy, she should try to find a peaceful place and breathe deeply. She should then try to remember a calm scene that appeals to her senses and finally relax after leaving the scene.