Visualization Techniques To Calm Anxiety

Different anxiety reduction techniques work for different people. One you may find helpful, especially if you have a few minutes on your own, is to use calming visualizations. They're more to relax or reduce your nerves in the moment, rather than solve them at their root, but there are many cases where that's still useful.

Visualization works because the emotional part of your mind responds to imagined scenes as if they were real. Of course, it doesn't react as strongly as experiencing the same thing in the outside world, but enough to make the exercises useful. It's easy to get a quick sense of this by imagining yourself biting into a delicious dessert. If you do it with enough detail you'll find yourself salivating as if you were about to actually eat something.

Since they require some time and space to do, visualizations are most useful for generally relaxing and unwinding, or to calm yourself before going to an event you're nervous about. Though sometimes you can use them in the middle of a scary situation. Like if you're afraid of flying you could close your eyes before takeoff and conjure up a calming scene.

At first, practice visualizing on your own in a quiet, private place when you've got some free time. It won't do much good to attempt them for the first when you're in a blind panic. As you get more experience, you can try doing them in day to day life, or while you're nervous, e.g., on the bus ride to meet some new friends for dinner.

There are lots of guided visualization meditations online. You could stick to a few you like, or keep trying new ones and not run out for years. Listening to pre-made ones can also help you get a sense of how to create a scene for yourself. You may find it helpful to know to come up with your own scenarios.

Here are some anxiety-reducing visualization exercises, in no particular order:

Imagine a calm, peaceful, relaxing, safe space

For example, a tranquil, sunlit meadow, a luxurious room full of pillows, or a beach on a beautiful deserted island. The first time you do this take a few minutes to create your ideal relaxing setting. Then every time after you can put yourself back there.

Visualize a comforting animal or presence

Visualize a supportive person

Visualize your stress and tension physically flowing out of you

There are many ways to do this one. A few examples:

Imagine serenity and relaxation as having a physical form

Picture your anxiety as a separate entity that needs your comfort

That's just a sampling of more-common techniques. Really, any kind of visualization that speaks to you on an emotional level could work. Try combining aspects of the various exercises above. See what new things you can come up with, and which ones work for you better than others. Maybe you'll find it's useful to imagine your anxiety as a house with all the lights on, and you feel calmer and calmer as you go from room to room turning them off. Maybe you'll imagine your worries as bubbles you can pop. Maybe nothing will relax you more than imagining yourself as a loaf of bread slowly baking in a warm, cozy oven. There are endless options.