Stress Management: Doing Guided Imagery

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Guided imagery is a program of directed thoughts and suggestions that guide your imagination toward a relaxed, focused state. It is based on the idea that your body and mind are connected. The relaxed state may help you feel more in control of your emotions and thought processes.

How do you do guided imagery?

Guided imagery helps you use your imagination to take you to a calm, peaceful place. This can help you relax and relieve stress.

When you start, try to meditate for only 10 minutes at a time. Then you can increase the time bit by bit. You can also try meditating for 10 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes in the evening.

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.

To give guided imagery a try, follow the following steps.

  1. Find a comfortable place to sit or lie down. Close your eyes.
  2. Take a few deep breaths to help you relax.
  3. Picture a setting that is calm and peaceful.

    This could be a beach, a mountain setting, a meadow, or a scene that you choose.

  4. Add some detail to your scene..
    • 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 there clouds?
    • 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.
  5. Take a few minutes to breathe slowly and feel the calm.

    This is best done when you are deep into your scene and are feeling relaxed.

  6. Think of a "return" cue.

    Think of a simple word or sound that you can use in the future to help you return to this place.

  7. Exit from your scene.

    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.

  8. Count to 3, and open your eyes.

    Notice how you feel right now.


Current as of: June 24, 2023

Author: Healthwise Staff
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The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.