When you are feeling overwhelmed by your emotions, visualization techniques can be effective in calming your mind. Research has shown there is a scientific basis for how and why visualization works. Studies of the brain indicate the same areas of the brain light up when you visualize an action as when you actually perform that action. For example, when you visualize lifting your right hand, it stimulates the same part of the brain that is activated when you actually lift your right hand. Athletes have used visualization for years to practice movements in their minds, like swinging a tennis racket. Just visualizing these motions helps improve athletic performance. What does this mean for you? It means when you visualize a safe place that is soothing and calm, your brain will react as if you are in that place. Reacting to the sights, sounds and even smells of your safe place can cause your brain to increase calming biochemicals and decrease stress neurochemicals.

What to Do
During this visualization exercise, you will focus on a real or imaginary place where you feel relaxed, safe and peaceful. The first step is to identify such a place. It can be a beach, forest, spa or a fanciful setting such as a house in the clouds or your own private island. Now find a quiet, comfortable space to sit without being disturbed or distracted and follow these instructions:

1. Take several long, slow breaths and close your eyes.
2. Visualize entering your safe place and using all your senses to explore it.
3. Observe what the space looks like. Notice details, including colours, brightness and the objects around you. Are you alone, or are others with you? Are other living things there, such as animals or plants? Take a few moments to enjoy your surroundings.
4. Imagine the soothing sounds around you: a soft breeze, chirping birds, ocean waves, a purring cat or relaxing music. Focus on one sound that is especially pleasing and continue listening for a few seconds.
5. Focus on what you smell in your safe place. If your setting is outside, inhale the scent of fresh air or flowers. If your setting is inside, smell coffee brewing, incense burning or bread baking. Notice the pleasurable aromas for several seconds
6. Next, pay attention to your sense of touch in your safe place. If you are outside, notice the calm breeze or warm sun on your skin, grains of beach sand in your hand, or the garden vegetables you are growing. If you are inside, feel the chair or rug you are sitting on, the warmth of a fireplace or the soft fur of a dog you are petting. Take a few seconds to enjoy the sensations.
7. Finally, focus your attention on your sense of taste. What comforting food or drink are you enjoying? Is it sweet, spicy, or salty? Hot or cold? Take a moment to savour the flavours in your mouth.
 8. Take a few moments to relax in your safe place, using all your senses. Notice how calm and peaceful you feel in this place. Remember that you can return here anytime you experience distress.
9. Take a few more deep breaths and open your eyes when you are ready.
10. Like any new skill, visualization can take some practice.