Visualisation is another technique that uses the power of your mind to reduce pain and stress. It’s similar to guided imagery, however, instead of being told what you see, hear and feel, visualisation is up to you and your imagination. As with guided imagery, it’s a chance to distract your mind from your pain, and take some time out.
Visualisation won’t take your pain away, but it can help you deal with it better when you’re having a flare, when you’re feeling stressed or tense or when you’re having problems sleeping.
Below are some visualisation exercises for you to try.
Before you begin, get in a comfortable position – this may be sitting or lying down – and relax your muscles.
Breathe slowly and evenly and listen to the sound of your breath. Try to clear your mind of other thoughts, worries and concerns. If you’re comfortable to do so, close your eyes. And now begin your visualisation.
Remember a past event
Think back to a happy time and place from your past, e.g. your wedding day, a family holiday, a wonderful day at the beach. Now try to remember that day in as much detail as possible. Imagine the sights, smells, tastes and feelings.
Imagine a future event
If you have something exciting coming up, or an event you’re really looking forward to, try and picture it in as much detail as possible, e.g. you may be planning a trip to Cairns – visualise the places you want to see and the things you want to experience. Picture the Great Barrier Reef, smell the warm, salty sea breeze, taste the seafood and cocktails. Or imagine a trip to Paris – visualise the Eiffel Tower, smell the bakery with the buttery smells of croissants and other pastries. Get all of your senses involved.
What have you always fantasised about doing? Climbing Everest? Singing onstage to an adoring audience? Travelling through Middle Earth with elves, hobbits and dwarves? Whatever the fantasy, imagine yourself doing it – again, involve all your senses and include lots of details.
Visualise your pain
Use colours to visualise your pain and then imagine the colour changing as your pain lessens, e.g. if you have hip pain, visualise the pain as a bright red glowing spot. Now see the spot gradually changing colour from an intense, throbbing red, to a cool, relaxing blue. As the colour gradually changes from red, to pink, to purple, to blue, imagine the pain becoming less and less intense, and the spot becoming smaller and smaller.
When you finish your visualisation, continue breathing evenly and smoothly in and out. Notice how relaxed and comfortable you feel. Enjoy this moment and know that you can use this technique next time you feel pain, stress or are having difficulty relaxing.