By Shailyn Waites MSW & HEC Counsellor
There are many grounding techniques an individual can use to calm their mind and body by bringing them out of past or future oriented thinking and into the here-and-now. One grounding technique we will learn in today’s blog is called imagery.
The purpose of this exercise is to visualize every detail of a calm, peaceful, and relaxing environment. In moments of high anxiety our mind can feel like it is running a marathon, by using imagery, it takes you out of that marathon and allows you to ground yourself to the present moment and relax your mind and body.
How do I do it?
- Grab a piece of paper – you can choose to write out your thoughts and draw what you are imagining. Find a comfortable quiet place where you will not be interrupted to engage in this activity. Begin to think of a calming place in significant detail (e.g., beach, on a mountain, with a favourite friend, etc.). It can be a real place or an imaginary place.
Go through each sense…
- 1) What do you see?
- 2) What are you hearing?
- 3) What are you able to touch or are touching something?
- 4) Can you taste anything?
- 5) What can you smell?
For example, a visualization should be as detailed as the following:
- Mountains filled with trees and an open valley of high weeds
- A tiny lake that is ice cold and bright blue
- The sun is shining, it feels hot on the skin but there is a cool breeze
- There is no one around all I can hear are birds chirping, squirrels running around, and the breeze swaying the tree branches side to side.
- I am sitting on a grey blanket that is placed on top of the grass simply admiring this view and breathing in fresh air. It smells like fresh pine.
- The blanket feels so soft.
- I am sipping on an ice, cold glass of water while eating a ham sandwich
Imagery can be used as a tool for grounding as well as motivation, for instance, visualising what you want for your future (e.g., goal setting and manifestation) or current success (e.g., in sports visualizing a win in an upcoming event).
Research suggests that utilizing imagery as a technique in counseling allows clients to connect with their internal cognitive, affective, and somatic experiences. Imagery has shown to positively affect physiological processes, suggesting that this skill when used effectively can regulate a dysregulated body and mind.
Citation: Utay, J, & Miller, M. (2006). Guided Imagery as an Effective Therapeutic Technique: A Brief Review of its History and Efficacy Research. Journal of Instructional Psychology. Retrieved from https://www.proquest.com/openview/26bdce6b33c205ccdccdc5969b38bfbc/1?pq-origsite=gscholar&cbl=48173