A technique that’s often overlooked in reducing anxiety symptoms is visualization. It is also sometimes called guided imagery.
Those who have heard of this term before often associate it with unsound new age beliefs. So let me just get this out of the way first: visualization may not be the most effective way to become an overnight millionaire, but it’s definitely a tool you can use to reduce or eliminate anxiety.
What is visualization? To put it simply: it’s using your imagination to create visual images with your eyes closed (and sometimes open) to achieve the healing of a psychic illness, reduce physical pain, or have an emotional release.
For example, when your anxiety is running sky high, you can visualize the anxiety as a red ball of fire stuck in your chest or belly. Using creative imagination, you can then visualize that you are able to pull this bright red ball of anxiety out with your hands and cast it out of your body. Repeat this act multiple times to achieve the desired effect of reducing any psychic distress.
Here’s a step-by-step process for reducing anxiety symptoms, including panic, depersonalization and derealization (DP/DR), using visualization techniques.
- Step 1: When you are experiencing high anxiety, panic, or feeling out of touch with reality, find a quiet place to visualize and make sure you are in a comfortable position (sitting, standing, lying down — it’s up to you).
- Step 2: Scan your body and notice all the sensations and feelings you are now experiencing. Is there a constriction in your chest or belly? Or are you having difficulty breathing? Do you feel like some energy is moving through your body? Do you feel numb somewhere? Pay attention to all of these areas.
- Step 3: Using your creative imagination, visualize your anxiety, panic, or DP/DR as an object in your body. Give this object a shape, color, some texture, and details, such as whether it’s bright or dark. The size of this imaginary object can be big or small. Be as creative as possible. There are no rules here.
- Step 4: Focus on this image and try not to get caught up in any other thoughts that are going through your head at the moment.
- Step 5: Now imagine moving this visualization object from inside your body to the outside. You may also use your hands physically to simulate that you are taking this object and moving it through your body and getting it out.
- Step 6: Release this object to the elements: air, water, open space, or fire, whatever is closest to you. Then, visualize this object as just breaking down and dissipating.
- Step 7: When you visualize the object as being broken down, notice any changes to the feelings and sensations in your body. Imagine your distress level coming down because the object that was distressing you has been eliminated or reduced in size. It’s as if you have taken a few unpleasant feelings and sensations from inside your body and cast them off to the outside.
- Step 8: Repeat steps 5 through 7, enhancing your visualization each time, and trying to make it as vivid and clear as possible. You are slowly releasing all your pent-up anxiety, panic, and scary and distressing feelings to the outside.
Try to do this for at least 10-15 minutes when you’re feeling intense, scary emotions and sensations.
If you aren’t able to visualize amidst strong emotions that are overwhelming you, then you can practice this technique when you are feeling a little better and more in control. This way, you can slowly build up your skills and strengths to practice visualization for when the times are particularly testing.
There are hundreds of visualization techniques that are beyond the scope of this article. For example, one technique uses an imaginary white ball that moves up and down over your body and radiates intense light rays that heal you. Use the Internet to find out more about different techniques, and find ones that work for you.
If you feel skeptical about this, I totally get it. It may sound very woo-woo or new agey, but did you know a lot of Olympic athletes use visualization techniques before they compete in their sport, to achieve the results that they seek? 
You may not be able to cure cancer using visualization, but it has been proven to work for issues such as anxiety and other psychic distress.
Some time ago, I was inside a sauna, trying to have some relaxing time, when my anxiety suddenly shot up and became very intense. I contemplated getting out immediately and heading to some place where I felt safe. Then, I remembered reading about visualization and something in me wanted to try it out and see what would happen.
I proceeded to close my eyes and visualize my anxiety as an intense, bright red ball gyrating inside of me and causing me distress. Then, I imagined grabbing this bright red ball with my hands and taking it out of my body through my mouth and throwing it on the sauna heater. I visualized that the bright red ball of anxiety evaporated into steam when it came into contact with the hot rocks on top of the heater.
I did this multiple times for over 10 minutes. By the end of it, I was quite amazed at how much lower my anxiety level was. It was then that I realized the power of visualization.
You don’t have to take my word for it. You can try this simple, effective, and completely free-of-charge technique, and decide for yourself.
- Olympic athletes and visualization techniques – http://www.businessinsider.com/olympic-athletes-and-power-of-visualization-2015-1