Mind Trips

This week’s cartoon features Air Force spouse and military cartoonist Julie Negron, creator of JennySpouse.com

Do you ever daydream? Just floating along on the memories of a fun experience with family or friends? Or maybe dreaming about an upcoming vacation, anticipating the feel of the warm sand and salt spray?

Because we live in a society where left-brain logic is considered the gold standard, daydreaming has gotten a bad rep. But research increasingly reveals that daydreaming, and especially controlled daydreaming or what’s called “guided imagery”, reduces stress, improves performance, increases creativity, and fosters recovery from even some of the most serious medical conditions.

Like any skill, using this technique to navigate stress needs to be practiced regularly. How do you do that? Find a comfortable and relatively quiet place, though it doesn’t have to be totally silent. (Think back to a time you caught yourself daydreaming; very likely other people were present and you may have been sitting at your desk at work.)

1. Take a few deep slow breaths. Breathe in to the count of four, hold for the count of four, and slowly breathe out to the count of four, or whatever count works best for you. Repeat 4-8 times or until you begin to feel your body relax a bit.

2. Do a body scan and choose to let go in tense muscle areas. Pay particular attention to your neck and shoulders where we tend to hold the most tension.

3. Think of a place or situation where you feel relaxed and content. That could be listening to conversation with friends or it could be a beach, mountain trail, or by a babbling brook. Focus on all the senses. What does it smell like? How does the air feel? What sounds do you hear? What small details do you see? Like an artist, fill in as many details as you can.

Even a few minutes can rejuvenate you and improve your ability to tackle the tasks at hand. Can’t get away to the Bahamas today? Take a mind trip there instead!

For more information about relaxation and guided imagery, visit these sites:

Navy Knowledge online https://wwwa.nko.navy.mil/portal/operationstresscontrol/operationalstresscontrol

Mayo Clinic http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/relaxation-technique/SR00007

Web MD http://www.webmd.com/balance/stress-management/tc/guided-imagery-topic-overview

About the blogger:

Leanne Braddock is a Licensed Marital and Family Therapist and the Clinical Program Analyst for the Navy’s Operational Stress Control Program. She played a key role in the development of OSC. Leanne is a retired Commander Human Resource Officer, was a Navy “junior”, Navy wife, and now a Navy Mom. Her son is a Surface Warfare Officer.

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