Anxious Thoughts Getting the Better of You? Visualization Can Help!

Left to its own devices, my mind will happily root around for unnecessary things to worry about. Before I know it, I’m an anxious mess. Ironically, the things I worry about almost never come to pass.

It’s like Mark Twain famously said, “I have been through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened.” The problem is, understanding that your worries are unfounded doesn’t necessarily stop them from playing out in your head. In fact, most of the time it doesn’t.

According to the Mental Health Foundation, stress is a key factor in the mental health problems many people face. They also say that tackling stress head-on can go a long way toward dealing with things like anxiety and depression.

Right now, roughly 40 million adults between the ages of 18 to 54 suffer from an anxiety disorder. And yet, only about a third of sufferers seek treatment. Given the social stigma attached to mental health symptoms, that’s hardly surprising.

It might be 2018, but for a lot of us, it’s easier to admit to having a dysfunctional thyroid than an anxious mind. We need to change the way we view mental health symptoms.

Why Try Visualization?

Visualizing comes with a host of benefits. Among other things it activates your creative subconscious, optimizes performance, increases your ability to think positive thoughts and reduces stress.

Sometimes you will need to bite the bullet and seek out professional help. There’s no shame in that. The experience may be uncomfortable, but the results make it worth the effort. Sometimes, though, dealing with anxious thoughts just requires a few good tools.

A daily meditation practice definitely helps, as do deep breathing and listening to calming music. Visualization is another great tool.

According to Jack Canfield, the daily practice of visualizing your dreams as already complete can rapidly accelerate your achievement of those dreams, goals and ambitions. (He should know. Chicken Soup for the Soul, the book he co-authored with Mark Victor Hansen, was rejected 144 times before it went on to become a best seller.)

Anxiety-Busting Visualization Techniques

Need some help getting started with visualization? The folks over at NetCredit offer some helpful visualization techniques and suggestions for when to use them. Whether you’re having trouble falling asleep or feeling overwhelmed and unable to focus on the task at hand, they’ll help.

1. Double-Paned Window Technique

visualization techniques

You know the feeling. You’ve had a long day at work, and all you want to do is sleep. But the minute your head hits the pillow your mind goes into overdrive, rolling out a mix tape of anxious thoughts. Here’s how you can silence them and get a good night’s rest.

Use it: When anxious thoughts are keeping you awake

Step 1: Picture a group of friends talking loudly outside your open window.
Step 2: Don’t moan at them. Instead, just calmly close your double paned window.
Step 3: You can no longer hear their annoying chatter, which means you’re free to sleep.

2. Serene Beach Scene Technique

visualization techniques

If you’re a nervous passenger there’s probably no worse sound than that of the airplane door hissing shut. The only way you’re getting off now is if you fake an illness or deal with your fear.

Your mind will insist on going through everything that could possibly go wrong. Don’t give it a chance to go down that road. Give this visualization technique a try and before you know it you’ll be calm and ready for your holiday.

Use it: When you’re afraid of flying

Step 1: Visualize yourself lying on a white sandy beach, the sky is blue and you can hear the sound of the waves.
Step 2: Imagine your body sinking into your beach chair, the sand beneath your feet feels warm.
Step 3: Allow the tension to drain from your body, as you gently close your eyes and breathe to the sound of the rolling waves.

3. Stop Sign Technique

visualization techniques

Sometimes our imagination can be our own worst enemy. How often have you encountered a small snag and immediately hit the ‘worst case scenario’ highway? The next thing you know you’re inundated with a barrage of intrusive and disruptive thoughts. This simple visualization will help stop them in their tracks.

Use it: When you’re plagued by unwanted thoughts

Step 1: Picture a big red stop sign in the middle of an empty road, the sky above is clear and blue.
Step 2: Focus your attention on that stop sign and as you do, calmly repeat the word ‘stop.’
Step 3: Continue until the unwanted thoughts have subsided and your anxiety has faded.

4. Blender Technique

visualization techniques

The next time you find yourself sitting at your desk feeling completely overwhelmed by your seemingly endless to-do list, try this visualization technique. It will help you calm down and clear your head so you have the mental bandwidth to tackle that big project.

Use it: When you’re faced with a really long task list

Step 1: Picture a blender being switched on. Imagine it noisily grinding and chopping as it blends the food.
Step 2: In your mind’s eye, turn the blender off. You will feel an almost immediate sense of calm.

5. Ball of Yarn Technique

visualization techniques

If you find it difficult to unwind after a long, stressful day, it can be challenging to make the most of your evening and recharge for tomorrow. Rather than waste your leisure time worrying about things you can’t do anything about, try this visualization instead.

Use it: When you’re struggling to unwind after a long day at the office

Step 1: Visualize a small ball of yarn. All the residual tension from your day is wound up in that ball of yarn.
Step 2: Locate the end of the yarn and imagine it slowly unrolling. As the strand gets longer and longer, you will feel your tension unwinding with it.
Step 3: By the time the yarn has unrolled completely, you’ll be equally relaxed and able to enjoy the evening.

6. Blue Light Technique

06_Visualization-techniques-to-calm-your-anxious-mind_technique

Challenging tasks can stress you out. It doesn’t matter if you’re about to tackle a big project or if you’ve just completed one, they invariably leave you feeling anxious. Light visualizations are a great way to relax. Give this one a try the next time you need to decompress before (or after) a task.

Use it: When you need to relax before (or after) a challenging task

Step 1: Imagine that you’re surrounded by a glowing orb of blue light.
Step 2: Take a deep breath and as you do, draw the light in and let it fill your whole head.
Step 3: Visualize the tension leaving your body as black smoke. Watch it dissolveing into the light around you.
Step 4: With each following breath, allow your body to  fill with the healing blue light. Eventually your entire being will be as clear as a blue crystal.

7. Quiet is a Liquid Technique

visualization techniques

Sometimes life can feel overwhelming. Especially when you’re bombarded with information all day long. When that happens silencing our chattering minds can seem impossible. This visualization can help you silence the noise and focus your thoughts.

Use it: When your chattering mind leaves you overwhelmed

Step 1: Visualize ‘quiet’ as a thick, clear liquid. Allow it to fill your head with peace and quiet.
Step 2: Now imagine it pouring down into the rest of your body until you feel like a liquid ball.
Step 3: When you reach this ‘liquid ball’ zone, sit quietly and continue to breathe deeply for a few minutes.

Whether you want to bring your A-game to work or simply want to learn to relax more, visualization can help. Make it a daily practice and you’ll soon find that life’s challenges aren’t that hard to deal with anymore.

We humans have the remarkable ability to control our thoughts simply by visualizing, let’s use it to our advantage.

Images and visualization tips reposted and adapted from Net Credit with permission

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

47 comments

Marie W
Marie W5 months ago

Thanks.

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Jeanne R
Jeanne R8 months ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Jeanne R
Jeanne R8 months ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Past Member
Past Member 10 months ago

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Ruth S
Ruth S10 months ago

Thanks.

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Anna R
Past Member 10 months ago

Thanks

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Renata B
Renata B10 months ago

Visualisation is an extremely powerful tool because the subconscious mind understands emotions and physical sensations but doesn't care whether they come from what we call "reality" or our imagination.

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Naomi D
Naomi Dreyer10 months ago

I like the end:
We humans have the remarkable ability to control our thoughts simply by visualizing, let’s use it to our advantage.

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Naomi D
Naomi Dreyer10 months ago

VERY interesting.

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Dr. Jan H
Dr. Jan Hill11 months ago

So good for you to relax your brain through visualization.

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