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Stress Management: Doing Imagery Exercises

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Stress Management: Doing Imagery Exercises


Here are three ways you can use imagery to help you relax and relieve stress.

Imagery to release muscle tension

You can use imagery to release muscle tension.

  • Close your eyes, and imagine these things:
    • Wax softening and melting
    • A tight, twisted rope slowly unwinding
    • Tension swirling out of your body and down the drain
    • Holding a remote control and turning down the volume on your muscle tension

Guided imagery to relieve stress

You can use a technique called guided imagery to take a 10-minute trip in your mind to someplace you enjoy. The place may be a quiet, peaceful scene or a fun activity. It may be a favorite place from your past or someplace you have never seen but can imagine.

  • Close your eyes, if you can. Take a few deep breaths by breathing in slowly through your nose and letting the air out through your mouth. Let tension flow out of your body with each breath.
  • Picture yourself in the place you've chosen. Include as much detail as possible. Imagine the sounds, smells, sights, and feelings.
  • Let your body and mind respond as if you were actually there. Let your thoughts calm or brighten and your muscles relax. Feel yourself letting go of tension.

Color imagery to relieve stress and tension

Color imagery is good for relieving daily hassles and tensions. Practice changing the tension color from red to blue with each daily hassle you confront. Imagine the color blue as your cue to relax.

  1. Close your eyes, and scan your body for tension or discomfort.

    Picture the color red, and associate it with this tension. Imagine all the tense parts of your body as red.

  2. Take a deep breath, and change the color from red to blue.

    Imagine the tension slipping away as the areas change from red to blue. Feel the relaxation associated with the color blue.

  3. Now imagine the color blue getting deeper and darker.

    Relax further with each shade of blue.


Current as of: June 24, 2023

Author: Healthwise Staff
Clinical Review Board
All Healthwise education is reviewed by a team that includes physicians, nurses, advanced practitioners, registered dieticians, and other healthcare professionals.

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