Using visualisation to help reduce stress

Visualisation is often used by top athletes to help them win. But you can also use visualisation to help reduce stress levels.

It’s an all senses technique. Sight, smell, touch, taste, and hearing can all be used to help. Rather than athletes visualising winning, you’ll be visualising relaxing scenes to help you de-stress.

The goal is to ‘visualise’ a place where you feel at ease. It may be a beach, a wood, or a favourite spot. If music helps put some on. Or it may be sounds such as birdsong if you choose a wood.

Steps for using visualisation to help reduce stress

  1. Find a quiet place where you won’t be interrupted and close your eyes.
  2. Imagine somewhere restful and focus on the detail. Paint a picture in your mind.
  3. Try to hear, smell, taste and feel as much as you can. If you are by a beach, for example, try to hear the sea and smell the salt in the air. Try to use at least three senses.
  4. Visualisation works best the more detail you can imagine. Choose things that appeal to you though. Don’t choose them because you think they should be there.
  5. Treat your visualisation like virtual reality. If on a beach spend time listening to the sea, make a note of the colours, hear the seagulls, walk around and feel the water lapping on your feet.
  6. Don’t worry if you lose track of where you are during the visualisation, it is normal. Don’t worry about yawning either, or any heaviness in your limbs. The focus is on relaxing.

Spend time slowly moving around the space. You will find it difficult at first. Bit the more you use visualisation the easier it gets and the greater the benefits.

When you are ready, slowly open your eyes and come back to the now. You may feel self-conscious doing visualisation at first. But stick with it, it really works.