Do you know that one’s mind is a powerful tool that can reduce pain, anxiety and stress? Have you heard of guided imagery? Well, guided imagery is also called visualization – it is a mind-body technique and a scientifically recognized and validated method of getting relief from depression, anxiety, stress and pain. The idea behind this is if someone can envision that his pain is lessening, then he can achieve it.
For instance, when in pain, if a person, instead of taking pain relievers, can close his eyes, take a breath deeply and try to visualize his pain is like a glowing ball that is gradually moving away from his body.
How does guided imagery work?
According to Patrice Rancour, RN, “Guided imagery helps the body lower its circulating levels of stress hormones, particularly cortisol.” Rancour is an imagery practitioner in the integrated medicine department at Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.
When a person is stressed, then his body adopts a fight-or-flight mechanism. A number of cortisol and stress hormones are released during this time, that prepare body either to face or run away from the threat. This hormone release is useful for some time, but, when it happens for a few days, it can increase inflammation level in the body. Rancour opines that mind-body practice can calm down the nervous system.
In guided imagery, an individual imagines a peaceful situation covering all the senses – from what he sees, hears, tastes, touches and smells to what he feels and thinks. If one can visualize his body as he wishes it to be, then it will be also helpful. When a person can indulge in a peaceful thought, he automatically puts himself in a relaxed state and lowers cortisol and anxiety level. As a result, the pain will go down.
Effectiveness of Guided Imagery
Research has shown that guided imagery can give relaxation from a painful state like arthritis. Studies have also proved that it can reduce cortisol circulation, ease anxiety and stress, reduce pain and improve body functioning. If guided meditation can be included in arthritis treatment, then it might reduce the need for medication. Experts say that the better a person becomes in this, the lesser will he need medicines for pain, or he can even sleep better during the night without taking sleeping pills.
Another great advantage of guided imagery is that it is very easy to practice, and it takes only 10 minutes and can be done anywhere. Thus, it is good to make guided imagery a daily habit to yield healthy rewards.
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