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American Family Children's Hospital
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Stress Management: Imagery Exercises

Topic Overview

The methods described here help you relax, relieve stress, and feel better.

Imagery for releasing muscle tension

Close your eyes and imagine one of the following:

  • Wax softening and melting.
  • A tight, twisted rope slowly unwinding.
  • Tension swirling out of your body and down the drain.
  • You holding a remote control and turning down the volume on your muscle tension.

Imagery as a mini-vacation

Take a 10-minute trip in your mind to someplace you enjoy. The place may be a quiet, peaceful scene or a fun activity. It may be a favorite place from your past or some place you have never seen but can imagine.

  • Picture yourself there in as much detail as possible. Imagine the sounds, smells, sights, and feelings.
  • Let your body and mind respond as if you were actually there. Your thoughts will be calmed or brightened, your muscles will relax, and a feeling of letting go will come over you.

Color imagery

Color imagery is good for combating daily hassles and tensions.

  1. Close your eyes and scan your body for tension or discomfort. Picture the color red and associate it with this tension. Imagine all the tense parts of your body as red.
  2. Take a deep breath and change the color from red to blue. Imagine the tension slipping away as the areas change from red to blue. Experience the relaxation associated with the color blue.
  3. Now imagine the color blue becoming deeper and darker, and relax further with each shade of blue.

Practice changing the tension color from red to blue with each daily hassle you confront. Imagine the color blue as your cue to relax.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Steven Locke, MD - Psychiatry
Last Revised May 3, 2013

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