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Guided Imagery: What It Is and How It Is Being Used to Help People Heal

Guided imagery helps your mind escape to a pleasant, relaxing environment, thereby reducing stress, anxiety and a host of negative emotions. You may use a guided imagery coach, special tapes, or you may guide yourself, but the premise stays the same: verbal suggestions or other techniques are used to gently guide your imagination to a harmonious place.

guided imagery

By imagining yourself in a serene place, such as at the beach, you can feel calm and relaxed no matter where you are.

And when your mind becomes calm and peaceful, it prompts very real physical changes in your body. This mind-body connection is now being used to help people heal, deal with pain and overcome illness.

"Mind-body medicine focuses on the interactions among the brain, mind, body, and behavior, and on the powerful ways in which emotional, mental, social, spiritual, and behavioral factors can directly affect health," writes the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM).

How is Guided Imagery Beneficial?

During a guided imagery session, your mind retreats to a comfortable place, such as a beach or a garden. This relaxed state is said to benefit not only your health, but also learning, creativity, mood and well-being.

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It is an excellent stress management tool, which can help to lower your blood pressure and relieve other dangerous side effects of chronic stress. It can also help you to achieve goals, such as weight loss or quitting smoking, or prepare for an upcoming event, such as public speaking.

"Guided imagery provides a powerful psychological strategy that enhances a person's coping skills. Many people dealing with stress feel loss of control, fear, panic, anxiety, helplessness and uncertainty. Research has shown that guided imagery can dramatically counteract these effects," according to the Cleveland Clinic. "It can help people overcome stress, anger, pain, depression, insomnia and other problems often associated with illnesses and medical/surgical procedures."

They point to various research studies that have proven guided imagery may help to:

  • Dramatically decrease pain and the need for pain medication

  • Decrease side effects and complications of medical procedures

  • Reduce recovery time and shorten hospital stays

  • Enhance sleep

  • Strengthen your immune system and enhance your ability to heal

  • Increase self-confidence and self-control

So powerful are the effects of guided imagery for surgery patients that the Cleveland Clinic Foundation Heart Center hands out complimentary guided imagery CDs to any patient scheduled for heart surgery.

guided imagery coach

A guided imagery coach can help you to relieve pain, boost your mood, achieve your goals and lessen the impact stress has on your life.

Who Should Try Guided Imagery?

Anyone who could benefit from increased relaxation in their life could also benefit from guided imagery. It's useful for any type of stress relief, but particularly if you:

Remember that there are several ways to use guided imagery: with a trained guided imagery coach, with guided imagery CDs, or by simply using your imagination.

For minor stress relief you will probably experience benefits simply by working to put your mind in a relaxed place, however if you are facing more serious stress or health conditions, a guided imagery coach is recommended.

Recommended Reading

How Does the Way You Think Impact Your Health?

How To Role Model Effective Stress Reduction Strategies For Your Kids


The Cleveland Clinic

National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine

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