Stress has been defined as a reaction or response to any kind of change.
It acts like a signal for the body and mind to get prepared for any eventuality.
In that sense, some stress is essential for a healthy, lively life.
But if you are facing a significant number of stress symptoms, you definitely need to do something about it, for these persistent problems could trigger off some more serious types of illnesses, physical and mental.
Visualization is the technique of using your imagination to create what you want in life. It is based on the principle that the mind and body are intimately connected and changes in the physical state of the body create changes in the mind.
Through visualization, we learn to use positive mental images consciously to bring about changes in the way we think and feel. It is, therefore, also called positive imagery.
Before we move on to the actual visualization method; let's do an interesting little exercise that will convince you of the efficacy of this technique :
Lie down or sit comfortably. Be totally comfortable.
Close your eyes.
Now imagine that it is a beautiful day.
You feel like taking a walk...you mentally leave your bed, your room, your home.
You find yourself in an open field...a vast stretch of green...imagine yourself walking through the field...on the far side of the field is a forest. As you come into the forest, through the trees, it becomes more shady and cool.
You can hear the sound of running water...walk along the river...you can feel the wet sand under your feet...you come to the top of some steps...you can see a beautiful garden below
Start stepping down towards the garden...walk down the steps...down 10 steps...with each step you feel your tensions going away...1...2...3...4...5...6... 7...8…9...10. Now you are in the garden, take a look around...the lovely flowers...smell the sweet fragrance...you keep looking at the flowers...brightly colored. You can hear the leaves rustling in the wind. Smell the fragrance of freshness. Now, you wish to leave...you come to the steps...climb up to the riverside...walk along the river...through the forest...out in the fields... Let this image fade.
You are back in your room, feeling refreshed and alert...ready to get up. Now mentally count 1...2...3…and 3...2...1... Slowly open your eyes. Stretch and roll on to a side and keep lying down for a few minutes. Get up slowly. You feel absolutely calm, and completely relaxed...
As you may be unfamiliar with the skill of conscious visualization, it may take some time to learn. It is very likely that the images could be discouragingly uncooperative initially, flickering on and off, moving around or disappearing altogether when interrupted by some thoughts. If you have trouble getting impressions from all the senses, work on your strongest sense first
Fold your hands into tight fists. Tighten the biceps and forearms. Hold for a few seconds. Release the tension and relax. Repeat.
• Wrinkle your forehead. At the same time, push your head as far back as possible. Roll it towards the right and then towards the left, then bring it back. Now tense all your facial muscles, press your eyes hard, wrinkle your forehead, tighten your jaws, tongue pressing the roof of the mouth. Stay in this position for a few seconds, then relax. Repeat.
• Arch back as you take a deep breath. Hold. Relax. Take a deep breath, pressing out your stomach. Hold. Relax. Repeat.
Pull your feet and toes up towards your face. Hold. Relax. Now push your feet and toes down, tightening the calves, thighs and buttocks. Hold for a few seconds, then relax. Repeat. Keep lying down for a few minutes. Continue to take deep breaths. Now tell yourself: "When I get up, I will be fresh and alert." Count from 1 to 3 and 3 to 1. Open your eyes". Turn and roll towards one side. Keep lying, down for a few minutes, then slowly get up. For achieving quick deep muscle relaxation, whole muscle groups are tensed and relaxed. Each step is to be repeated twice, tensing each muscle group for 5 to 7 seconds and then relaxing it for 20 to 30 seconds. Remember to observe the contrast between the sensations of tension and relaxation
This exercise should be practiced twice a day while sitting in a comfortable chair with a high back, or lying down on a flat surface on a thin mattress. Avoid tight clothing. You can listen to some soothing background music to enhance the feeling of relaxation. Do not, however, do this exercise immediately before or after a heavy meal. Ideally speaking, it should be learnt under the guidance of a trained professional. It is a take-home therapy that should become a part of your daily routine. Consistent practice of this technique has helped in the treatment of muscular tension, anxiety, insomnia, fatigue, irritable bowels, muscle spasms, neck and back pain, high blood pressure, mild phobias and stuttering
So, the next time you are feeling miserable, try putting a really cheerful smile on your face. You will find it difficult to stay sad. Positive thinking reduces the, frequency and intensity of negative emotions and acts as a stress-buster. Identify your negative thoughts, focus on your feelings and then eliminate all self-defeating thoughts. Substitute them with positive thoughts about yourself. Do not, however, avoid seeking professional help or mobilizing social support, if required, in dealing with stressful times.