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Use Guided Imagery For Relaxation


Updated May 23, 2014

Man standing with arms outstretched looking out at desert canyon at sunset
Thomas Barwick/Taxi/Getty Images
Guided Imagery is a convenient and simple relaxation technique that can help you quickly and easily manage stress and reduce tension in your body. It’s virtually as easy as indulging in a vivid daydream and, with practice, this technique can help you to better access your inner wisdom. Here's how to get started with guided imagery:
Difficulty: Easy
Time Required: 10-15 Minutes

Here's How:

  1. Get into a comfortable position, like one you would use for meditation or self-hypnosis. If a lying-down position would likely put you to sleep, opt for a cross-legged position, or recline in a comfy chair.
  2. Use diaphragmic deep breathing and close your eyes, focusing on breathing in peace and breathing out stress.
  3. Once you get to a relaxed state, begin to envision yourself in the midst of the most relaxing environment you can imagine. For some, this would be floating in the cool, clear waters off of a remote tropical island, where attractive people bring drinks and smooth music plays in the background. For others, this might be sitting by a fire in a secluded snow cabin, deep in the woods, sipping hot cocoa and reading the latest bestseller while wrapped in a plush blanket and fuzzy slippers.
  4. As you imagine your scene, try to involve all of your senses. What does it look like? How does it feel? What special scents are involved? Do you hear the roar of a fire, the splash of a waterfall, or the sounds of chipper birds? Make your vision so real you can even taste it!
  5. Stay here for as long as you like. Enjoy your ‘surroundings’, and let yourself be far from what stresses you. When you’re ready to come back to reality, count back from ten or twenty, and tell yourself that when you get to ‘one’, you’ll feel serene and alert, and enjoy the rest of your day. When you return, you’ll feel more calm and refreshed, like returning from a mini-vacation, but you won’t have left the room!


  1. You may want to use ambient sounds that compliment your imagery. This way, you feel more immersed in your ‘environment’, plus the sounds of real life will be obscured.
  2. You may also want to set an alarm, just in case you lose track of time or fall asleep. This way, you’ll be more able to relax and let go, knowing that your schedule won’t be in jeopardy.
  3. As you get more practiced, you’ll be able to go more deeply and quickly. You may also want to communicate with your subconscious mind, with the help of a tape you record for yourself or purchase, or a therapist.

What You Need

  • Some quiet time.
  • Some privacy.
  • An alarm clock, perhaps.

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