Day 7 – Visualization

The next technique is called Visualization (a.k.a. Guided Imagery). It is a process of relaxation in which you use your imagination to picture yourself in a peaceful place. Use as many senses as you can to create an accurate picture of wherever you “are.”

This technique is nothing new… in fact, athletes sometimes use it to picture themselves before a big game. When I ran cross country in high school we did it as well and would spend time before races mentally preparing ourselves by imagining exactly what race day would look, feel, smell and be like on as many levels as possible (and of course winning the race)!

The way to make visualization most effective is by being as relaxed as possible prior to doing the technique. Using some of the previous breathing exercises may be helpful first to relax your entire body before attempting to incorporate your imagination into it.

My favorite way to do this is to envision the beach. For me, that is a safe place. I grew up in Huntington Beach, CA and so I associate the beach with safety, warmth, community and home. Other people may feel that the mountains are the safest, most peaceful place or the forest.

While picturing yourself at your location of choice you’ll want to pay attention to everything around you. Take the beach for example:

* What does it look like? Can you see long stretches of sand? What about the ocean? What else do you see around you? What does the sky look like? Are there any clouds? etc.

* What does it smell like? Are there any concession stands nearby? Can you smell hot dogs or other refreshments? Are there any bonfires going? What about the sand and the salt water? etc.

* What does it feel like? Can you feel the warmth of the sun beating down on you? Is there a breeze? etc.

* What do you hear? Are there any kids playing nearby? Can you hear the crashing of the waves on the shore? etc.

You get the point! Visualization can be hard at first especially for people like me whose mind is constantly moving! But when I find myself actually getting to that place of really feeling like I am at my safe place it can be an incredibly peaceful experience!

* Please note: When you finish an exercise like this you may feel a bit drowsy at first, especially if you get to a deep state of relaxation. Don’t just jump up and go for a drive or something after!! You need to ease back into “real life”. As you pull yourself out of the safe place, take some deep breaths and count down from 10. Get up slowly, drink some water and walk around a little to pull yourself out of it.

See you tomorrow!!

Day 5 – Progressive Muscle Relaxation

Okay, on to the good stuff! The first technique known to decrease tension in the body is an exercise called Progressive Muscle Relaxation or PMR. This feels so good!! All it consists of is a process of tensing and relaxing your muscles one by one (or in larger muscle groups if you’re in a time crunch) in order to become fully relaxed from head to toe. (Well, really it’s toe to head which you’ll see in a sec). Anywho, here’s how you do it:

Starting with your right foot, inhale and squeeze your right foot muscle as hard as you can (be gentle with yourself but you really want to become aware of how tight your muscle gets). Focus on tensing up the muscle for 8 seconds. Once 8 seconds have passed, exhale, release the squeeze and all your stress at the same time! It feels great! After your right foot, it is suggested that you follow this progression moving up your body all the way to your head:

* Right foot

* Right lower leg and foot

* Entire right leg

* Left foot

* Left lower leg and foot

* Entire left leg

* Right hand

* Right forearm and hand

* Entire right arm

* Left hand

* Left forearm and hand

* Entire left arm

* Abs

* Chest

* Neck and shoulders

* Face

Some tips:

1) Once you have finished, relax with your eyes closed for a minute or two. If you get up too quickly you could faint.

2) Do this between meals rather than right before or after.

3) If you do this in bed there is a chance you could fall asleep so try it in a comfy chair instead.

5) Do PMR in a quiet place with no distractions.

* As always, seek medical advice if you experience discomfort while doing this or have a pre-existing condition.

This can become an awesome habit to get into and a great way to relax!! Try it and let me know what you think!

See you tomorrow!

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