Stress Management Know-How!
The practice of guided imagery is a great way to regain control of a stressful situation. Guided imagery is a type of visualization relaxation technique where you are guided through a series of images, usually a certain scenery such as a forest or a beach. You can either guide yourself or be guided by someone else (a therapist or prerecorded guide.)
"The time to relax is when you don't have time for it."
~ Sydney J. Harris
1. Practice guided imagery when you are relaxed so that this exercise comes more naturally to you during times of stress.
Example: You walk deeper and deeper into a forest.
You walk further and further along a beach.
You walk higher and higher up the mountain side.
You feel the warm air against your skin.
You drink fresh spring water.
5. After some time spent in motion, imagine yourself reaching a place where you can rest.
Example: After walking through the forest for a while, you lie down on a patch of mossy grass.
After walking along the beach, you reach your blanket where you rest.
7. After you have rested a while, you can choose to either open your eyes slowly and resume regular activity or choose to fall asleep.
8. Explore the use of guided imagery in conjunction with other relaxation techniques.
A Walk in the Woods
Sit or lie down in a comfortable position. Close your eyes after having read the gist of this visualization. Imagine it's a beautiful sunny day and you've just started your walk through a nature park.
Your path meanders through this wooded area. As you begin your walk, you notice how comfortable your body feels with the warm air surrounding you, the sunlight streaming through the tall tree branches.
You walk further along your path and notice the smell of pine. You continue to walk further down the path and notice the sound of birds singing.
You continue to walk further along the path and notice a bubbling stream ahead of you. You walk closer and closer until you reach the stream. The spring water looks so clear. You bend down, cup your hands, and collect water. You drink in the water. The cool water touches your lips and floods your mouth. You swallow the cool water, feeling its slow descent down your throat. The water tastes so pure. You stand back up and continue to walk down the wooded path.
You walk further and further until you reach a soft patch of mossy grass. The emerald green moss is inviting. You decide to lie down on the moss on your back. Your eyes are closed. You feel the softness of the moss against your fingertips. From your toes to your head, each muscle feels relaxed. You notice each breath you take. In this moment, you notice the heaviness of your body against the earth. Your entire body feels relaxed. Your mind is calm. Simply focus on your breathing. When you are ready, slowly open your eyes. (Alternative: Take a nap or go to sleep after this.)
The Starfish Story
Once upon a time, there was an old man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach every morning before he began his work. Early one morning, he was walking along the shore after a big storm had passed and found the vast beach littered with starfish as far as the eye could see, stretching in both directions.
Off in the distance, the old man noticed a small boy approaching. As the boy walked, he paused every so often and as he grew closer, the man could see that he was occasionally bending down to pick up an object and throw it into the sea. The boy came closer still and the man called out, “Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?”
The young boy paused, looked up, and replied, “Throwing starfish into the ocean. The tide has washed them up onto the beach and they can’t return to the sea by themselves,” the youth replied. “When the sun gets high, they will die, unless I throw them back into the water.”
The old man replied, “But there must be tens of thousands of starfish on this beach. I’m afraid you won’t really be able to make much of a difference.”
The boy bent down, picked up yet another starfish and threw it as far as he could into the ocean. Then he turned, smiled and said, “It made a difference to that one!” ~
~Adapted from The Star Thrower by Loren Eiseley (1907 – 1977)~
This simple story serves as a good reminder that:
• YOU are worth time and effort.
• Maybe you can't help everyone, but you can help someone.
• Goals can be achieved one mini step at a time.