Let’s do a visualization exercise: Imagine you are on a beach, relaxing in a chez lounge. The sun is shining in a bright blue sky, warming your body from top to toes. You adjust the umbrella to keep the glare off of the pages of the book you’ve been enjoying. Without a care in the world, you reach for the ice cold glass of lemonade that’s sitting next to you on a small table. The sweet, tart drink refreshes you from the inside out. You can hear the ocean crashing against the rocks in the distance. Closer, you hear the lapping of the water as it combs the sand clean with each wave. The seagulls seem to whistle to one another as they swoop and dance in the sky above as you continue to enjoy this paradise.
Most of the time, we can think of someplace we would rather be. It might be a cabin in the woods or a mountain resort. Maybe you would like to be sitting on the sidelines at the Superbowl. If you can imagine the place and/or time with visualization, you can mentally transport yourself there for a mini-vacation.
Visualization takes some practice.
The more you practice visualization the easier it gets. In the beginning, it helps to try it in a quiet place where you feel safe. You should close your eyes so that you aren’t disrupted by the things you see in the room around you. A sleep mask can put you in total darkness which helps a lot.
It’s best to imagine a place you’ve been to. This will help you recall important details that can make this visualization come to life. If you really struggle with this, add some sensory aids. Sitting near a heater can help you imagine the sun’s warm rays. Have some real lemonade next to you and take a sip. There are wonderful apps that have background sounds of the ocean. Play them softly as you close your eyes and let the stress slip away.
There’s nothing cute about stress
For me, visualization is one of the best ways to combat acute stress. This is stress that hits you hard and fast. You might have just gotten some bad news or maybe someone ran into your car with theirs. But it takes practice for visualization to be effective in these situations. This practice helps to change your automatic response to difficult situations.
After practice, you won’t need any sensory aids to help you go to a happy place via visualization. Instead, when something bad happens:
- (If it’s safe) close your eyes.
- Take a deep, slow breath.
- Imagine something comforting.
- Remind yourself that this will be over soon and that you will work things out.
- Open your eyes and deal with acute stress (whatever immediately needs to be taken care of).
- Then, take care of yourself.
Once again I will be doing double duty in the A to Z Blogging Challenge. I will be sharing ways to avoid burnout, here at Facing Cancer with Grace. At Heather Erickson Author/Writer/Speaker, I will share ways of thinking creatively, using Brainsparker’s Kickstart Course of A to Z prompts. I hope you’ll visit me at both sites.
What do you imagine in a visualization exercise?
What Are Your Thoughts?
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In 2012 doctors diagnosed my husband, Dan, with stage IV lung cancer. Since then, our family has been learning what it means to face cancer. I’ve focused my writing and speaking on helping cancer patients and their families advocate for themselves and live life to the fullest, in spite of their illness. My goal is to help people face cancer with grace.
My book Facing Cancer as a Friend: How to Support Someone Who Has Cancer, is available on Amazon.com
Also, put your memories into words with The Memory Maker’s Journal.
I also blog at Heather Erickson Author/Writer/Speaker