Guided imagery is more than listening to relaxing sounds. It’s a learning process to listen to someone’s voice, relax the breathing and consciously direct the ability to imagine. The effect of guided vivid imagery sends a message to the emotional control center of the brain.

From there, the message is passed along to the body’s endocrine, immune and autonomic nervous systems. These systems influence a wide range of bodily functions, including heart and breathing rates and blood pressure.

Guided imagery has been shown to benefit patients by:

  • Reducing side effects from cancer treatment

  • Reducing fear and anxiety prior to surgery. Studies have shown that surgery patients who participated in two to four guided imagery sessions required less pain medication and left the hospital more quickly than those who hadn’t used imagery.

  • Managing stress

  • Managing headaches. Studies have shown that guided imagery may aid in reducing the frequency of migraine headaches as effectively as taking preventive medications.

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provided by Mayo Clinic. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

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