Dr. Kristin Schaefer-Schiumo| Manhasset NY

Using Imagery to Diffuse Emotions

A few months ago, I spoke to you about the benefits of mindfulness. As the summer comes to a close, and we become busier with work, family, or school demands, it is important to carry inner calm into the fall. So, I would like to take some time to discuss imagery strategies with you. Studies show that imagery can affect your emotions in a very positive way. Learning how to picture your peaceful place is critical to mindfulness and emotional regulation.

  • 1. Close your eyes and picture a place that brings you peace and happiness. This imagery should help you feel at home and diffuse emotions.
  • 2. Focus on the details of this place. What do you see? What do you smell? What do you hear, taste, or feel? You may bring someone with you into your special place conjured by imagery. BUT, be certain that anyone you put into your space is a source of calm (versus stress, anger or fear). Your goal is to diffuse emotions, not to cause them to get worse.
  • 3. Once you have a detailed imagery of your safe/peaceful place, take a moment to focus on some of the smallest of details. This will help to quiet and calm your mind and diffuse emotions. For example, a peaceful place could be the beach with the waves lapping on the shore. It could also be your childhood bedroom, or walking in the woods listening to the soft sounds of a stream. Just be certain that the imagery you make is calming for you personally.
  • 4. As you bring up your peaceful image, focus on your breath. Pay attention to your natural breath, and keeping it as even as possible. While you are regulating your breath, you are no longer focusing on any negative emotions.
  • 5. Now, focus on how this peaceful imagery you've made in your mind makes you feel. Are you feeling calmer or less stressed than before? Stay in this place for as long as you feel you need.
  • 6. The next time you are feeling stressed, take yourself to your peaceful place and use imagery, and breathe. You will be surprised at how quickly your emotions diffuse, leaving you clear minded and peaceful.