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Guided imagery exercises can be tailored for adults, young children or teenagers. Exercises may also be designed for relaxation, for physical health or to correct certain behaviors. A variety of guided imagery exercises may be purchased online in audio or written formats, as well.
Many have successfully used guided imagery exercises for increasing physical health. In these exercises, individuals are instructed to visualize images of health and healing, while making a concentrated effort to relax and breathe deeply. Clinical studies have proven that visualization exercises help in reducing pain, blood pressure levels and the anxiety often associated with medical procedures. These types of guided imagery exercises are often used by individuals being treated for chronic illnesses, such as cancer, lupus and arthritis.
Also known as autogenic training, guided imagery exercises can also be designed to aid in relaxation. In these types of exercises, individuals imagine peaceful scenes while controlling breathing and releasing tension in the body. While engaging in relaxation exercises like this, participants are encouraged to imagine themselves in a peaceful setting and to imagine certain sensory effects, such as the warmth of sun on the skin, the scent of fresh flowers or the gentle feeling of a cool breeze.
Counselors trained in leading guided imagery exercises often use these techniques to help adults and children who are struggling to manage anxiety disorders. Depending on the age group, counselors are able to develop appropriate exercises that patients can use in their daily lives to help calm fears and anxieties. These types of exercises can, therefore, be used in a clinical setting or a patient can use audio recordings to practice techniques at home. Individuals can eventually learn how to guide themselves through exercises and reduce anxiety levels anytime and in any place.
Guided imagery exercises for children and teens have also proven helpful for young people struggling with asthma. Research indicates that asthma is sometimes triggered by emotional stress, which can at times be reversed by using creative visualization techniques. When children are relaxed and focused, asthma attacks can sometimes be thwarted.
Guided imagery exercises are also used to correct certain behaviors, such as cigarette smoking. By using imagery to visualize refusing a cigarette or envisioning an active life as a non-smoker, some have discovered that cravings for tobacco have been weakened and many have even found the strength to avoid cigarettes altogether. Similarly, envisioning black lungs or toxic poisons being inhaled also helps deter individuals from smoking.