Using Guided Imagery for Managing Your Pain

Source: Mayo Clinic

What is Guided Imagery?

Guided imagery is a method used to achieve a focused and relaxed state by redirecting a patient’s thoughts through the use of audio tapes, video, an instructor or created scripts. Based on the principle that the mind and body are connected, guided imagery utilizes all of a person’s senses to respond to pain stimuli.

To describe the process of guided imagery, imagine an orange in great detail. Notice the smell, the texture, and the color of the peel. Continue to imagine these visuals while also envisioning yourself taking a bite out of the orange. Most people will begin to salivate upon taking an imaginary bite of the orange. This is an example of how the body responds to guided imagery. Likewise, a person can achieve a relaxed state of being when they imagine all the details of a comfortable place.

Why Use It?

Guided imagery is primarily used to promote relaxation, which has been shown to reduce pain levels and improve the way the body responds to stress. It can also be used to help you manage pain, lose weight, promote healing, quit smoking, or even prepare for public speaking or athletic competition.

How Safe Is It?

Guided imagery is perfectly safe to practice under the guidance of a professional with no known risks. Guided imagery sessions for chronic pain relief achieve the best results when the instructor has a background or training in guided imagery techniques. After a few sessions, any patient should be able to perform guided imagery effectively at home without instructions.

Be sure to let a doctor know anytime you are seeking alternative help or if you are thinking about using guided imagery as part of a combination treatment with other options such as psychotherapy or antidepressants. Talk to a doctor before you stop taking conventional medical treatments and rely solely on guided imagery for pain management.