Meditation has been proven one of the most effective anxiety management tools you can use.
Experts agree that these techniques can “allow us to become more aware of the stream of thoughts and feelings that we experience, and to see how we can become entangled in that stream in ways that are not helpful.”
As many studies have discovered, using meditation techniques can help to combat anxiety, worry, stress, and depression.
In one study, researchers found that meditation and mindfulness practice led to not only significantly lower stress levels but also lower anxiety levels and less distress post-treatment.
Visualization is just one of the meditation techniques you can try, but for visual people, it can be a way to engage more of your senses to calm your mind and relax your body.
Here are a few of our favorite visualization techniques to help you get your anxiety under control:
Imagine that you’re sitting outside on a beautiful sunny day. The sunshine is bright, there are no clouds overhead, the sky is a gorgeous crystal blue.
Take a moment to feel the warmth of the sun on your skin. Feel the light radiating over your body, and feel your spirits lift in the brightness and warmth of the beautiful day.
Now it's time to bring in one of your common anxiety-inducing thoughts. Whatever causes you stress or triggers your worry, bring that to the forefront of your mind and focus on it for a moment. Then transform that thought visually into a bird. Take all of the anxiety-inducing thoughts plaguing you and one by one mentally transform them into a flock of birds.
Then send those birds flying away. Watch their progress as they take off through the beautiful sky, flying up, up, up toward the sun until they disappear, and you feel calmer and more relaxed now that your problems have flown away.
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Close your eyes and picture yourself on a perfect beach. The sand is white, the sun is warm, and there’s a cool island breeze wafting past. You can even smell that fresh salty ocean scent, and hear the waves washing up onto shore.
Picture yourself lying on your back in the sand. Feel the softness of the sandy ground beneath you, and picture yourself sinking into that sand. Breathe deeply and let the tension drain from your body as you listen to the sound of the waves, feel the calming breeze and warmth, and relax into the soft, soothing comfort of a quiet beach.
This is an excellent one to use when your head is spinning with a lot of negative thoughts. Take all of those thoughts and make a conscious effort to stop hearing them in your own voice, but someone else’s voice, maybe lots of someones. Imagine that you’re at a dinner party, and all of those anxious thoughts are the conversations taking place around you.
Now, step outside the house until you’re alone, with all of your anxious thoughts as the“guests” inside. Reach for the window and visualize yourself closing it. The window is a thick, double-paned window that blocks out all of the sound. You will be able to see the guests talking and know the anxious thoughts are still there, but you can no longer hear them.
You’ll find yourself much calmer without those anxious thoughts rattling around in your head.
Picture yourself sitting next to a gentle stream in the middle of a forest. Around you, there are tall trees that block out everything else in the world, leaving just you and that stream right in front of you. Hear the stream gently trickling, feel the coolness of the water, and bask in the silence of the isolated forest stream.
Now, bring forward one of the negative or anxious thoughts that have been bothering you. Take a moment to focus on that thought, then visualize it being transformed into a leaf. Drop that leaf onto the stream, and watch it being carried away downstream on the current until it’s gone from your sight. The leaf will move at its own pace, but eventually, it will vanish, leaving you with one less thing to worry about.
Repeat this with the rest of your anxious thoughts, until all of the leaves have disappeared downstream.
When you've had a particularly stressful day, picture yourself sitting on your favorite chair or couch, somewhere you feel relaxed. Imagine that you’re holding a ball of yarn in your lap. That ball represents all of the tension and anxiety that swindling you up.
Now, picture yourself finding the end of the ball of yarn, that one loose thread that you can begin to pull. Slowly, begin unwinding the ball of yarn, pulling on the string until it becomes longer and longer, and the ball begins to loosen up and unwind. As the yarn unwinds, you’ll feel the tension in your body relaxing, too, and you’ll find yourself far less wound up once you’re done.
Bring all of your anxious thoughts to the front of your mind, and imagine them like a big, dark, grey, stinking cloud of smoke. Make it into the thickest, heaviest cloud of smoke you can imagine, the kind that you would never want to be around.
Now, let that smoke drift up into the air, where it’s caught on a breeze and carried away. Picture the dark grey cloud turning into light grey as the wind dissipates it, then turning into tiny wisps, and finally vanishing altogether. As the smoke leaves you, so too your anxiety will vanish in the wind.
I hope these six visualization techniques can do wonders to help calm your mind and banish anxious thoughts during both the day at night.
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