Mental health experts agree it’s common to experience anxiety in response to fearful or stressful situations and occasional anxiety is a normal part of life.
Information from the American Psychological Association indicates that “Anxiety is an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts, and physical changes like increased blood pressure.
Since the pandemic, moderate to severe anxiety has risen to 37.3 percent of the adult population, up from 6.9 percent in 2019.
We are living in atypical times. I believe we need an extra-large dose of Tender Loving Care (TLC) and a huge portion of self-compassion when we are exploring ways to convert anxiety into relaxation.
A recent anxiety reduction study conducted by the National Institute of Health(NIH) indicates just as spending time in nature can reduce anxiety, Nature-based Guided Imagery (GI) such as visualizing walking at the beach, hiking in the mountains, kayaking on a river, or having a picnic in a green field has special healing power.
Nature-based GI works by signaling our bodies to reduce cortisol level (the stress hormone), breathe deeper, lower blood pressure, and connect with the revitalizing energy found in natural surroundings.
Look below and discover a fun way to
Convert Anxiety into
Relaxation with a Colorful
Settle yourself into a comfortable place where you won't be disturbed. Select a position that is good for you like lying on the floor, sitting on the floor, or sitting upright in a chair with your feet on the floor and hands in your lap.
Pick a location that allows you to experience the moment, rather than one that helps you drift off and fall asleep.
Begin by closing your eyes or gazing softly. Then take three deep, cleansing breathes.
You can count each breath in your mind, but don't worry if you forget to count, or forget your place in the counting.
Deep breathing is a great way to start any visualization exercise, as it grounds you and helps you focus on mind, body, and spirit. More about deep breathing in the post How to Conquer Stress Quickly and Effectively.
Think of your breath as a path to calm, gentle energy. Imagine the exhale as a place to let go of worry, fear, and urgency to fix the future. Recognize the inhale as space to restore equilibrium and ease.
Imagine yourself exhaling a cloud of anxiety. If you can't easily imagine a cloud, you may want to put your hand on your chest as you breathe and sense your lungs, heart, and gut getting lighter or more open.
Now imagine yourself stepping into a fluffy white cloud that has fallen to the ground. If you find this challenging, recall the cloud image pictured at the top of this post.
Envision reaching out to feel the white clouds' airiness as well as sensing the clouds' ability to enfold and support your body.
White is an expansive color, one that is made of all the colors in the spectrum. White reflects all light and makes spaces appear larger. See Ways to Welcome and Embrace White Space for more.
In Western traditions white is often used as a symbol or purity and new beginnings. Let the color white help you turn over a new leaf.
Picture yourself sitting on a puffy white cloud. Use this time to acknowledge and reflect on ways you tried to cope with anxiety by using outmoded patterns, worn out ideas, and unhealthy methods to deal with stress.
If any anxiety producing or judgmental thoughts come into your consciousness, acknowledge their presence. Then wish them goodbye as you allow
The idea of this step is to see mistakes you've made in the past and release them without critical thoughts about yourself. 😍
Feel the surface below you becoming softer and more cloud-like. Imagine the cloud rising, surrounding you in its protective support. You become light as a white dove, and soon are floating on your special cloud without a care in the world.
See your cloud rising a little further, taking you with it. It appears that the walls and ceiling around you are disappearing as you float into the sky, drifting on the cloud.
Look around from this vantage point and imagine what else you can see.
Perhaps you envision a forest filled with beautiful autumn hued trees, their leaves whispering in the gentle breeze.
Maybe you prefer to see housetops, country roads, hills, or even the ocean at sunset.
From this awesome vantage point, you can see around you 360 degrees. The horizon stretches out in a complete circle around you.
Feel contentment, harmony, and well-being as you use parts of the natural world and your imagination to help you absorb healing earth energy.
Sense softness in your arms, legs, and torso. Sense peacefulness in mind and spirit.
Envision a wave of relaxation flowing from your head, down through your neck, chest, back, arms, legs, and feet. Notice how freeing and loving it feels to be in this cloud.
Allow warmth and relaxation to take over. As you do this, focus your awareness on your feet. Feel the floor beneath them, and then move your awareness up through your body, feeling it spreading right up to the top of your head.
Move your focus back to your imagination as you take a large handful of the cloud and imagine what it would feel like to be immersed inside of it. Relax and enjoy these comforting feelings, and let your mind drift wherever it wants to go.
If you sense any anxiety, bring it to the surface. Let all that you feel float to the surface, acknowledge them, but don’t get caught up in them.
Keep acknowledging your emotions, by identifying the feelings and then gently releasing them, as if they are on their own clouds, being blown away by a gentle breeze.
Keep doing this until your mind is free and clear of any anxious or stressful thoughts. The cloud keeps you safe and protected as you watch your worries and anxieties drift away.
When you feel complete, start to come back from this journey by yawning, moving your shoulders up and down, or sighing. Let your cloud take you back to where you need to go.
Notice your cloud is lowering you down, back toward the ground. Float back to where you were when you started this visualization.
Give your cloud time to rest on the bed, chair, or whatever surface you are on. Feel the cloud slowly disappear as the real surface becomes more solid beneath you.
Get in touch with your surroundings, and slowly come back to the present. Feel a real surface beneath you. Hear the sounds around you. Become more and more aware and alert. Continue to rest for a few moments longer, but open your eyes and look around. See your surroundings.
This cloud visualization is an effective self-care tool, because it allows you to take advantage of the healing power of being in nature, without having to leave your environment.
It is provided for information and entertainment purposes only and is not intended as medical advice.
Next time you feel on edge, take a short break to convert anxiety into relaxation with this colorful cloud visualization.
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Have you used guided imagery to help you reduce stress or anxiety?
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