Using visualization to relax and sleep better

Visualization can be a powerful technique to help you unwind, relieve stress, and even fall asleep. Instead of focusing on your anxious, fearful images, visualization expands your ability to focus on calming and restful images. You should first imagine in your mind's eye places that you have experienced where you felt deeply relaxed and peaceful. It may have been at the ocean, sitting in a favorite room, or walking in the mountains. Imagine closing your eyes and walking to that place again. Notice as many sensory details as you can, such as the time of day, the colors, warmth or coldness, texture, sounds, and any people or animals present. Then visualize this place for a few minutes before you go to bed.

At other times you may find it is easier to engage in guided relaxation activities. In these activities you mentally follow along as you listen to guided scripts for the purposes of relaxation. After listening to these exercises for a few times, you can remember which images helped you relax, and you can use them on your own. Here are two choices for a guided visualization exercise. One involves a relaxing vacation at the ocean, and the other a protective light surrounding you. The Protective Light exercise is particularly good after an emotional or distressing day.

Sample visualization exercises