Read time: 2 min

By Hope Schaefer Kemps, UWO Peer Wellness Educator

Imagine this in as much detail as you can: You are on a wooded path, surrounded by huge, beautiful trees. You can hear the birds chirping above you, and a woodpecker in the distance. The air is warm, but a cool breeze keeps the temperature just right. You smell the wood, the dirt, and the fresh clean outside air. As you walk along the soft path you come to a clear brook that bubbles and chatters as it flows by. You look down and see a frog hop off into the tall grass. You feel so relaxed and peaceful you can’t help but smile…(Ascension Coping with Anxiety Newsletter)

When thinking of a scene like that most people feel more relaxed and a little bit happier. Visualizations are a great way to refocus your attention from negative, anxiety provoking stimuli to a more calm and peaceful state. If woods aren’t your thing try beaches, or a favorite vacation spot, or a favorite chair-wherever you feel calm, relaxed and content, use that as your visualization destination.

Humor is another way to refocus your attention. I believe that when people hear visualization narratives, it may not be relaxing at all. Sometimes all they can think is, “wow this is the corniest thing I have ever heard in my life”. If this sounds like you, it doesn’t mean that the visualizations aren’t working. Some of the most effective visualization distractions come from the cheesiness of a visualization or the humor behind it.

Try imagining this in as much detail as you can: It’s a Friday afternoon at UW Oshkosh and you are sitting on your comfy chair, surrounded by pictures from your favorite memories with your friends and family. Your dorm room is almost as clean as when you moved in. You just finished your last exam for the week, so you have no studying that you need to do until tomorrow when you cram for your Monday exam. You just finished taking a shower and have slipped into the most comfortable clothes that you own. It was a great shower because no one else in your hall was using the bathroom. You are enjoying the smell of the freshly microwaved pizza dippers and the warmth of the container resting on your lap. The rest of the students in your hall are still in classes, so the only sounds you can hear are coming from Sam Smith singing into your air pods. You feel so relaxed you can’t help but think, “these are the best days of my life. This is what makes my college tuition worth it.”

Coping with Anxiety Ascension Medical Group. “Ascension WI EAP.” 3 Mar. 2020.