Have you ever been in the middle of a
stressful situation and wished you could be somewhere else—like lying on a
tropical beach? Guided imagery helps you use your imagination to take you to a
calm, peaceful place.
Because of the way the mind and body are
connected, guided imagery can make you feel like you are experiencing something
just by imagining it.
You can do guided imagery with audio
recordings, an instructor, or a script (a set of written instructions) to lead
you through the process.
You use all of your senses in guided
imagery. For example, if you want a tropical setting, you can imagine the warm
breeze on your skin, the bright blue of the water, the sound of the surf, the
sweet scent of tropical flowers, and the taste of coconut so that you actually
feel like you are there.
Imagining yourself in a calm, peaceful
setting can help you relax and relieve stress.
How do you do guided imagery?
To give guided
imagery a try, follow these steps:
Find a comfortable place to sit or lie down.
Close your eyes.
Start by just taking a few deep breaths to help
Picture a setting that is calm and peaceful. This could
be a beach, a mountain setting, a meadow, or a scene that you
Imagine your scene, and try to add some detail. For
example, is there a breeze? How does it feel? What do you smell? What does the sky look like? Is it clear, or are
It often helps to add a path to your scene. For
example, as you enter the meadow, imagine a path leading you through the meadow
to the trees on the other side. As you follow the path farther into the meadow
you feel more and more relaxed.
When you are deep into your scene
and are feeling relaxed, take a few minutes to breathe slowly and feel the
Think of a simple word or sound that you can use in the future to help you return to this place. Then, when you are ready, slowly take yourself out of the scene and
back to the present. Tell yourself that you will feel relaxed and refreshed and
will bring your sense of calm with you.
Count to 3, and open your
eyes. Notice how you feel right now.
It may help to have an instructor or audio recording to
follow. You can also use a script (a set of written instructions), but hearing
the instructions may be a better way to relax into the process.
Other Works Consulted
Freeman L (2009). Imagery. In L Freeman, ed., Mosby’s Complementary and Alternative Medicine: A Research-Based Approach, 3rd ed., pp. 252–282. St. Louis: Mosby Elsevier.
ByHealthwise Staff Primary Medical ReviewerPatrice Burgess, MD - Family Medicine Specialist Medical ReviewerChristine R. Maldonado, PhD - Behavioral Health