Anxiety has become a common problem in our society. If you do not suffer from it, you might know at least one close person who does. Part of the problem is that in the past little was done to address this problem. Even now, lack of knowledge still lingers.
Luckily, more people are realizing the importance of mental health, taking action to educate others and finding solutions. Holistic medicine provides different alternatives to treat anxiety. Among the most common are yoga and meditation. One practice that is becoming more recognized and accepted is visualization and guided imagery.
The Power of the Mind: Visualization and Guided Imagery
Visualization is a technique where one imagines the desired outcome of an action and focuses only on that image. Many athletes do this exercise during their training and before a competition to keep calm, concentrate, and trust their abilities. Michael Phelps, for example, has explained how when he was a teenager he used this technique, visualizing him winning first place; and it always worked for him.
Visualization serves to program our brain, activate it, and change how we feel, think, and even change how our body reacts.
Guided imagery is sometimes confused with visualization, but it has its differences. The main difference is that visualization can be practiced on our own, while guided imagery needs the assistance of a practitioner. Guided imagery is used more often to feel calm and relaxed before surgical interventions or after learning about a life-threatening disease.
Recalibrate your Brain Against Panic Attacks
Part of our daily activities consists of imagining possibilities, being small ones like buying a particular item or bigger ones, like imagining the future with a new partner. Visualizing outcomes is something we do naturally. However, doing it without control or without being aware of our thoughts can lead to an increased sensation of anxiety.
Panic attacks are characterized by appearing without previous notice. Uncontrolled thoughts of negative possibilities roam
around our minds and leave us with a feeling of threat and hopelessness and oftentimes with severe physical manifestations. Knowing that visualizing better outcomes can change the way your brain behaves, it is not surprising to know that more and more people use this technique to fight against panic attacks.
A study done by Jessica Nguyen and Eric Brymer explored how guided imagery could help people with anxiety to reduce their symptoms. The study recruited 48 people who suffered from anxiety and came from different backgrounds and ages. Part of the experiment was to explore if imagining nature had better effects than imagining urban places. They divided the group into two, and both groups were guided to imagine nature and urban lifestyles. The results showed that both nature and urban images helped the participants reduce their anxiety, concluding that imagining a peaceful scene is favored to achieve the relaxing effects.
The formula to control and reduce panic attacks is practicing visualization to recalibrate your brain. Imagining a scene is not enough. Can you smell the red flowers you are seeing? Can you hear the sound of rain falling on the autumn leaves? To achieve the desired results, you need to trick your brain into believing that you are living whatever you are visualizing in real life. It takes practice and patience, but the power of the mind is immense.
If you feel like you want to try something different to treat your anxiety, you can try visualization. Many videos on the internet can serve you as a base to start. You might also want to consider visiting a practitioner to help guide you. Do not worry if you feel like your imagination is not as vivid as others, there are always methods to accommodate each person’s capacities and needs during the guided visualization.
Recalibrating your brain to immerse in these images and sensations will require patience. The first time doing it might be difficult, but as with any other endeavor, you will need to practice visualization to achieve better results over time. Although visualization has no side effects, it is always better to consult with a qualified practitioner. If you suffer from severe anxiety, finding support from a practitioner is a really effective and natural option.
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