|I tried the beach visualization but I find it hard to really “see” anything in my head. Is there something wrong with me? What can I do?|
No, there is nothing wrong with you! Lots of people struggle with this at first. It can be helpful to find a photo of a beautiful beach that calls out to you – just look on the Internet or in travel magazines. For the first few times focus on this photo while listening to the recording. I bet next time you will be able to close your eyes and “see” it!
|I’m confused – I thought that I shouldn’t try to avoid or distract myself from anxious feelings, but now you are saying it can be helpful to take a mental vacation? Don’t these suggestions contradict each other?|
Excellent question! You are right that it’s important not to run away from feelings of anxiety or they will likely grow over time and get more powerful.
These mental vacations are not meant as a way of running away or distracting yourself from anxiety. Mental vacations are best used regularly to help manage your overall stress (for example, leading up to and during exam week). They can also help you ride out your anxiety so you can focus on something specific (such as on the morning of a presentation). A visualization can be like a runner stopping to have a drink of water in order to continue the next stage of a marathon.
If your goal is to cope with anxiety better in your life, you can do this with some other key skills, such as choosing to expose yourself to fears gradually on a regular basis. Good luck!