Visualization is a relaxation technique that is done by imagining a pleasant scenario or scene. There are two ways to use visualization to overcome fear. First, visualize that you are overcoming your fear until you succeed in real life. Second, visualize a scenario that gives you peace of mind when you are experiencing intense fear.
Method 1 of 3: Visualizing Success
Step 1. Be realistic
Visualization is a very effective way. The brain's response to the scenarios we imagine is usually the same as the response it appears to success and failure in real life. To overcome fear, form a habit of visualizing success, but create realistic scenarios. Imagine that you are able to overcome your fear in a way that is actually possible.
- For example, you are afraid of public speaking, but you have to speak at a seminar at work. Don't imagine you giving a passionate speech and bragging and the audience clapping as they stand. Even if your presentation goes well, you may not get this kind of response.
- Instead, imagine that everything is going well. Visualize yourself standing in front calmly and confidently. Imagine that your heart rate is steady and still calm. Also imagine that you can speak fluently and are able to answer questions convincingly.
Step 2. Visualize your success in stages
If you find it difficult to visualize the final result (e.g., successfully giving a presentation in a seminar), visualize gradually to better prepare yourself. This way, it's easier for you to imagine a successful presentation because you've already completed the previous few steps that make you feel more prepared and successful.
- For example, visualize that you have completed your research and have well prepared presentation materials. After you do the activity in real life, imagine you are giving a presentation in an empty room and then do it. Continue by visualizing a great presentation in front of a friend or coworker you trust and then do it. Choose people who are willing to give positive feedback to improve your speech. Finally, a day or two in advance, imagine that you are able to deliver a successful presentation at work.
- This method can help you achieve the final result step by step by increasing your self-confidence.
Step 3. Visualize your success
Visualize regularly if you want to overcome your fear. Close your eyes and imagine success. Take 10-15 minutes before bedtime to imagine that you can overcome your fear. In everyday life, you will feel calmer if you are used to dealing with fears mentally. For example, you may be able to speak calmly during a regular work meeting.
- As explained above, start small by imagining you are making comments at work meetings or expressing opinions that support the views of others. After that, move on to visualizing things that are more assertive, such as respecting other people's opinions in a sentence or two and then asking questions. This way, you are able to reach higher goals because you are ready to quietly contribute to the meeting.
- Find a place that is free of distractions. You'll find it easier to concentrate on your imagination if you visualize in a quiet place. Find a sitting or lying position that makes you feel comfortable. Make sure your body is free of aches and pains that can mentally distract what you're seeing. Close your eyes and visualize.
- Many people find it helpful to jot down their imagination before or after visualizing. This method helps you elaborate on concrete details and envision better scenarios of success.
- Play some soft music or light a candle. Visualization is easier to do in a relaxing environment. Breathe calmly and regularly while visualizing success.
Step 4. Visualize in detail
The more detailed visualization the better. When you face the actual event, you will feel calmer if a situation similar to the scenario you imagined occurs. While visualizing, activate all the senses, sight, smell, hearing, touch, and taste.
- Visions are perhaps the easiest to imagine. Continuing the presentation example, it's easier for you to imagine a meeting room situation or search for images where you have to do a presentation via Google in order to better visualize success.
- Smell and taste are usually more difficult to imagine in certain scenarios, but do your best. For example, in a conference room there is usually a scent of air freshener products. If you're used to drinking coffee before giving a speech, imagine the taste of coffee in your mouth.
- Also activate the senses of hearing and touch. Imagine your hand is touching the paper as you move the note. Listen to people coughing, getting up from their seats, using cell phones, and the occasional whisper.
Step 5. Set up a visual reminder
Many people use visual reminders to help with the visualization process. Keep a bulletin board in your bedroom so that you always see photos of successful people at things you fear so you feel inspired to tackle them. For example, if you are afraid of heights, hang posters of people climbing cliffs next to your bed.
Method 2 of 3: Coping With Anxiety Using Visualization
Step 1. Write down the places that make you feel calm
Sometimes, you can use visualization to calm yourself down when you're feeling anxious, which is known as a mental vacation. With your eyes closed, think of a place or scenario that gives you a sense of calm and then imagine that you are there. Beforehand, determine some places that make you feel calm.
- Think about your past and current experiences. What is the most relaxing moment? Is there a particular place or moment that makes you feel happy?
- Write down the places that make you feel very calm. Everyone is free to choose the place he likes, whether a specific place or just imagination. For example, you might imagine yourself in the water or think back to your childhood bedroom at grandma's house.
Step 2. Visualize a comfortable environment first
Before you can visualize experiencing a stressful moment, practice at home. This method helps you understand the visualization process.
- Find a quiet, distraction-free place in your home. Lie down or sit comfortably. You can play soft music, light a candle, or whatever makes you feel more relaxed.
- Close your eyes so that it is easier for you to focus on mental images of the physical conditions around you.
- Take a few deep breaths if you can't relax and have trouble starting to visualize. Inhale through your nose and then exhale through your mouth while blowing air into your lower abdomen to feel calmer and able to focus on your imagination.
Step 3. Use all your senses
Visualization will be very effective if it is done by involving all the senses. During your mental vacation, pay attention to what you see, smell, touch, hear, and taste.
- For example, a relaxing place for you would be by the lake in spring watching a flock of ducks swimming. Now, what picture do you see? What color is the lake water? What color is the duck? What color are the leaves around you? Where are you in this scenario? Are you sitting on a bench? Or, standing on a bridge over a ravine?
- Also activate the other senses. What sound do you hear? Imagine you hear the gentle sound of running water or the sound of ducks. What's the smell in this place? Maybe a rose is blooming near you? Do you smell rotting leaves by the lake?
- Can you taste the water in your mouth? Can you recognize the brackish taste of lake water when you breathe? How do you feel physically right now? Do you feel warm enough just wearing a light jacket? Is there a gentle breeze blowing against your face?
Step 4. Visualize when you are afraid
When you are in a stressful situation, close your eyes and visualize. The ability to imagine yourself in a calm and relaxing place will elicit a calming physical response. You can train yourself to respond calmly to stressful or frightening situations by visualizing regularly.
- When you feel afraid, your body will go into "fight or flight" mode which will trigger the production of the hormones adrenaline and cortisol (also known as the "stress hormone") so that your blood pressure and heart rate will increase.
- Relaxing the body and mind through visualization is a way of activating a relaxation response that triggers the brain to release signals and hormones that calm the body and mind.
- Many people say that visualization is very effective for overcoming fear in certain moments. If you're afraid to fly in an airplane, visualize when the plane takes off. If you can't sleep because of stressful thoughts, visualize before bed every night.
Method 3 of 3: Coping With Fear in Other Ways
Step 1. Consult a therapist if necessary
Fear is a natural thing and can be experienced by anyone. However, if you are constantly feeling so fearful and anxious that it affects your daily life, you may have an anxiety disorder. Make a consultation appointment with a therapist so you can have an examination. Look online for therapist information or ask your doctor for a referral. If you are still in school, consult with a counselor at your school or college.
Step 2. Be patient
Visualization is a skill that needs to be practiced like any other skill. Maybe you didn't feel the results the first time you visualized to overcome your fear. However, keep trying and in the end, things will get better.
- Practice visualization regularly. When you're not feeling stressed, get in the habit of activating your five senses while imagining a calming scenario.
- Visualization is one of many relaxation techniques and may not be suitable for everyone. If you're already practicing visualization and this doesn't help, choose another technique, such as meditating, practicing yoga, deep breathing, or another relaxation technique.
Step 3. Learn more about fear
Often, your greatest fears are unreasonable. Recognizing the fear you are experiencing and the unnaturalness associated with the fear can sometimes help with anxiety. For example, if you are afraid of flying in airplanes, it is helpful to know that the chance of a fatal plane crash is 1 in 7 million flights.