Ask Dr. Julie / Health & Wellness

Meditative Imagery Tool for Dealing with Stressors from 2020 and Beyond…

It’s heading into Spring/Summer 2020 already, where did winter of 2019/2020 go, right?

As much as we look forward to the early blossoming Spring part of the year and saying goodbye to the winter cold, sometimes, I see my patients getting bogged down by having to deal with the school year coming to an end or tax season or planning kids’ summer camps and summer vacations etc. And that’s with just a normal year, let alone a year like this year dealing with COVID19 and health scares. It can be downright scary, not just anxiety provoking. I’ve seen this in my own patients in my integrative medicine clinic in San Jose, CA. The impact of these stressors can really impact our health negatively such that some are experiencing anxiety, depression, insomnia, or even panic attacks.

It’s true, stressors can really negatively impact our mental and physical health if we’re not careful. If we let it…

That’s why, we should take stock of what we’ve achieved so far this year despite the hardships and what we hope to accomplish for the rest of the year. We should celebrate what has brought us here, all those experiences good or bad that’s helped us grow and become wiser and stronger…focus on positive imagery and thoughts. Half the battle is how we view our experiences. That’s how we grow wiser and stronger…strong enough to keep dealing with and succeeding against all the obstacles that can come at us in our life.

So how can we manage stressors and negative thoughts more effectively in a way where it won’t lead to anxiety, depression, insomnia etc?

I would like for us to do an exercise that I like to do with some of my patients so that we can take things in stride and in perspective.

It’s common that we might focus on certain factors in our life so much that we can’t move onto the things that would truly bring us joy and prevents us from truly appreciating what’s good in our lives.

So, here we go…

First, close your eyes and think about your life and think about what’s transpired in 2020 already.

(Keep in mind that this exercise can be done with any negative and positive thoughts/event comparisons so that you focus more on the positive).

Sift through all the details and grab onto the 5 top highlights and remember the details and feel warm and happy about the emotions that those highlights elicit in you. Give yourself time to really feel the impact of those moments or events. For example, the quality time you get to spend with your kids or spouse, the more time you have to sleep in or read a book, or how your loved ones are reaching out virtually on video to make sure your fine, etc.

Then think about the 5 things you wish were different and that you might feel ashamed about or just wish things hadn’t been that way.

Now imagine the 5 top highlights smashing down on or dissolving the 5 low events and imagine the 5 highlights growing brighter and stronger and pushing the low events until they are nothing and all you have left are the 5 highlights.

Then I want you to imagine those 5 top achievements or happy moments and see how they burgeon and grow and flourish into the upcoming months and see what you would or could do to expand on that and how branches of that greatness can spread into more highlights and events that will bring you joy throughout the year.

Allow yourself time to really experience it and when you slowly pull yourself out of that, allow yourself to hold onto the positive feeling.

When you are feeling stressed or anxious or unhappy, just remember that the positive highlights in your life can and should squash the negative and know that they will continue and burgeon more throughout the year.

Continue to work on positive imagery whenever negative thoughts pop up. This exercise can be a quick one minute recall of positive emotions and events or can be a 15 minute respite for you to delve into those positive emotions more deeply.

This is a calming tool to have because mind-body connection is strong and helping your spiritual/emotional/mental health is very important to your body’s overall health.

At this point, you might be wondering what we are doing here.

Well, it’s called positive imagery and if you can find more time and allow your mind to wonder and be creative in how it can enhance the positive thoughts and events over the negatives and allow your mind to have positive power over negative thoughts by highlighting positive ones, then you might also be engaging in therapeutic imagery.

It doesn’t have to be this exercise, it could simply be you just closing your eyes and imagining or reliving positive moments but let that happen for a few minutes so your body’s happy endorphins can rise to help calm your entire body.

A lot of people prefer the free form version they come up with in their own mind. But, if you feel better having someone else guide you in guided therapeutic imagery, consider some apps or CDs or online sites where there are guided imagery sessions you can access and sometimes for free.

I want you to care about yourself as a whole person, you deserve it! Which means that your mental and emotional happiness is just as important as your physical health.

 

 

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