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The health benefits of guided imagery

One of the most powerful, yet simple, self-awareness tools is guided imagery. It uses words and images to help move your attention away from the worry, stress and pain to help you find your own inner strength and creativity. This brings the natural powers of the mind into health and healing.

Through guided imagery you can learn to use your imagination to "create the state you want," meaning that you can actually change how you are feeling by changing your focus. Even very young children can learn this skill by linking images in their minds with feelings and experiences.

Guided imagery can have many health-related physical and emotional benefits. It can help you feel less nervous or upset, be less bothered by pain or achieve a goal such as an athletic or academic achievement. Elite athletes use guided imagery to imaging themselves performing at their best, and research suggests this helps their performance.

If you're interested in practicing guided imagery, here's what you need to know: 

What is guided imagery used for?
Guided imagery has many uses. You can use it to promote relaxation, which can lower blood pressure and reduce other problems related to stress. You can also use it to help reach goals (such as losing weight or quitting smoking), manage pain and promote healing. Using guided imagery can even help you to prepare for an athletic event or for public speaking.

How does guided imagery work?
The mind is a very powerful tool that can have a tremendous effect on the body. Our bodies react the same whether we are actually experiencing something or just imagining something. For instance, if you think about lying on the beach in Hawaii, your body responds as if you are actually lying on the beach in Hawaii.

What are the benefits of guided imagery?  
Imagery has a positive effect on heart rate, blood pressure, breathing and oxygen rates, brain waves, temperature, and hormone balance. Guided imagery can help relieve symptoms caused or made worse by stress, such as: chest pain (angina), high blood pressure, high blood glucose, headaches and digestive and breathing problems.

Is guided imagery safe?
Guided imagery is safe. No known risks are associated with it. Guided imagery is most effective when the person teaching it has training in guided imagery techniques. 

The next time you are feeling stressed or nervous, give guided imagery a try. You may be surprised by how simple and effective it is!

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