A simple explanation of guided imagery is the practice of concentrating on a mental picture to promote healing and relaxation or other positive outcomes.
Research supports the role visualization and guided imagery has on promoting relaxation and healing. In a normal day, we process up to 10,000 thoughts and images. Many of these are negative leading to worry, stress and anxiety. By recognizing the way we think and process information it is possible to promote a positive outlook and outcome to the negative influences on our health and well being.
Throughout the world, many cultures have recognized the power of visualization and guided imagery to promote relaxation and enhance the body’s ability to heal. Guided imagery has a well documented role in stress reduction and stress management. Ongoing research also supports the role of guided imagery in recovering from surgery, fighting cancer and promoting overall health and wellness. The following lists just a few of the areas guided imagery has been shown to be effective.
Guided Imagery Uses
• Reduce high blood pressure
• Lower heart rate
• Decrease anxiety
• Ease headaches
• Chronic neck and back pain
• Premenstrual cramping
• Spastic colon
When used in addition to traditional treatments and education before and after surgery, guided imagery has been shown to decrease stress and anxiety before and after surgery. Post surgical patients who were taught guided imagery in preparation for treatment experience less pain and need less pain medication than patients not educated in guided imagery techniques.
At Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, researchers conducted a clinical trial investigating the effectiveness of imagery, in addition to routine analgesics, in reducing post-surgical pain in children following a tonsillectomy or adenoidectomy. They observed significant reduction in post-operative pain and anxiety among the patients taught guided imagery.
In a study conducted by the Cleveland Clinic Foundation and reported in the Journal of Cardiovascular Management, patients undergoing cardiac surgery who listened to guided imagery tapes before surgery had a significant decrease in pain, stress and anxiety than a control group who did not listen to the tapes. The group that used guided imagery was even able to improve to the point of leaving the hospital two full days sooner than the control group.
Guided imagery can also be used to strengthen the immune system. Using guided imagery a group of students at Michigan State University was able to significantly improve the function of neutrophil cells responsible for defending us against bacterial and fungal infections.
* Ask your doctor for information and do not attempt to replace any current medication or treatment with guided imagery without first speaking to your doctor.
Many health care professionals are now using a combination of guided imagery and traditional treatment options to treat a wide range of illness and disease.
For further information about guided imagery and ways to explore this health option for yourself you might want to visit the Academy for Guided Imagery’s website.
Another good site is the Guided Imagery Resource at Your-Center.Com .
With a little time and practice anyone can use guided imagery. Using guided imagery is another way you can be proactive in your healthcare options. Taking time to invest in yourself and your well-being is an investment in your future.
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Huth MM, Broome ME, Good M. Imagery reduces children’s post-operative pain. Pain. 2004
Mannix L, Tusek D., Solomon G.: Effect of Guided Imagery on Quality of Life for Patients with Chronic Tension-Type Headache. Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain. May 1999, Vol. 39, Number 5.
Tusek, Cwynar, Cosgrove: The Journal of Cardiovascular Management. March/April 1999.