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Relaxation Techniques - Visualization
by Mark Sichel, LCSW

If your body needs to be calmed, read through this section first and then try these muscle relaxation techniques. In this module we introduce visualization and teach you how to create deeper levels of relaxation for yourself.

Untense those Muscles
Breathe deeply and exhale slowly 3 or 4 times, just as you learned in the breathing exercises.

Now, sitting comfortably, and breathing deeply, close your eyes.

Think of a safe place for you -- beach, mountains, golf course -- wherever you feel relaxed.

Continue breathing and paint a picture in your mind of this safe place.

Feel a cool breeze against your skin, the sun's warmth, the sounds of birds. You are the artist here, create an environment that is calming for you.

Feel the quiet.

Now beginning with your toes, flex and then relax each muscle set.

Visualize your toes growing less tense and then looser.

Now move to the ankles, loosen them and then allowing them to relax, move on to your calves.

Continue in this manner, repeating as necessary, until you feel totally relaxed and ready to take in some new material.

Remember: you can return to these breathing, muscle-relaxation exercises whenever you need them, anytime and anywhere.

Do you need some help in visualizing a safe place in your mind? Many people do, it's not at all unusual. Below you'll find a list of possible places of safety. Check off those that feel safe and comforting to you and then you will be able to remember your safe places even during times when you are experiencing panic:
On a sunny beach

In a cool forest

In your bedroom

In a dark room with little stimulation

In a light and cheery room

In front of a fire in a cozy cabin on a cold day

In a lake, swimming

In the arms of your lover

In a crowded anonymous setting with many people who don't know you

In an intimate setting with the people you know and love

In a quiet park

With your pet

On the ocean, sailing

With your mother or father

On a deserted road, driving

In an empty concert hall, listening to classical music

In a quiet library, reading a book

By a cool waterfall

Submit and print-out your results. Then put your visualization of YOUR safe places into your log-book. Draw upon it when you need to, visualizing yourself in your secret and special safe place where no one can harm you.

If you would like to review breathing exercises for relaxation, please read Relaxation Techniques: Breathing Exercises.

If you would like to continue your lessons on Panic Disorders, please read Panic: This is Not a Catastrophe.

If you would like to start at the beginning of the Panic Disorder lessons, please read What to Expect When You are Diagnosed with a Panic Disorder.

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by Albert Ellis
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