Ruth C White Ph.D.

Culture in Mind

Stress

Visual Strategies for Reducing Stress

Picture your way to peace.

Posted Jul 20, 2020

Ruth C White
Lake Merritt, Oakland
Source: Ruth C White

There are so many ways to manage stress, and picturing places and people that bring you calm is a very effective strategy.

Pictures of Peace

Research has shown that looking at pictures of greenery makes people feel calmer. Find a picture of a scene in nature that makes you feel calm, and bring it up on your computer screen or phone. Set your timer, and spend one minute looking at it. Good sources for these kinds of pictures are National Geographic and the Sierra Club. You might even want to buy a calendar that has natural scenes and look at it for one minute whenever you need to manage your stress levels.

Pictures of Love

Another way to use a picture of peace is to fill your workspace or living space with pictures that remind you of the love in your life. Maybe it’s your child’s art, or perhaps it’s a picture of your family, your pet, or you and your partner on a special day. It may be a picture of the view from a scenic hike you took with your children or a picture of that time you caught a big fish with your dad. Put these pictures in frames on your desk at work or throughout your home. When feeling stressed, set your timer and spend one minute looking at them and picturing yourself surrounded by love.

Visualization

When you don't have access to pictures that bring you joy and peace, visualization is a good backup plan. Visualizing is a great strategy that can be used for improving performance in many situations. For example, athletes often visualize themselves winning as a way of increasing their confidence.

Visualizing calm can help you relax by using your imagination to slow down your body. The first step in this process is to think about a place that puts you at ease. If it’s the beach or the woods, be specific about which beach or which woods, so that you have a real place to go in your mind. You can choose a vacation place, your childhood home, or your favorite spa. Wherever it is, think about that place.

Excerpted and adapted from The Stress Management Workbook: De-stress in 10 minutes or Less.