1. First, perform the Autogenic Training exercise to get into an appropriately relaxed state.
2. Next, listen to the following script (either pre-record it, or have someone read it to you). You may find it helpful to have the sounds of waves playing in the background:
A Day at the Beach: An Imagery Exercise
You’re driving to the beach on a warm, sunny day. Your car windows are open and the wind is blowing through your hair. The sun is warm on your skin. As you roll up to the beach parking lot, you see people walking with beach chairs and towels, wearing bathing suits and carrying coolers and bags of picnic food. You park your car, and as you walk from your car to the beach, you can hear the surf rolling onto the shore and smell the salt in the air. You find a quiet spot of beach away from everyone else and spread out your towel. You sit down and put on your sunblock, and the smell of sunblock tells you that you are really here, at the beach. You’re a little tired from the drive, so it feels really good to lie down on your towel and let all your muscles relax, with your feet off the edge of the towel, resting on the warm sand.
As you relax, you can taste the salt in the air. Droplets of ocean spray fall on you as you hear the waves rolling in and then rolling gently back out to sea. Everything seems light and yellow and light brown and blue. You notice how the brightness of the sun makes the color of the sand look even warmer, and the ocean’s blue seem even more vivid. These colors combine into just the right combination of serenity.
You decide to close your eyes and take in all the sensations through your other senses. You notice how the sun seems to move over your body. First you feel your arms getting warm from the intensity of the sun’s rays. You feel the heat pass through your arms, and the feeling is very relaxing. Next, you feel the sun’s rays on your legs, and now your legs are feeling very warm and relaxed. Now the sun moves to your chest, and it too becomes warm and relaxed. Now the sun moves to your abdomen, bringing its relaxing warmth there. And now, as though you’ve willed it to happen, the sun moves to your forehead, bringing warmth and relaxation there. And now your whole body feels warm and relaxed. Your muscles are relaxed, and your body feels as though it’s sinking into the sand. Your body feels very warm and very heavy. Your body tingles from the warmth of the sun.
Now, as you relax, you can hear seagulls. They are flying over the ocean. They are free, and light, and
peaceful. As they fly out to sea, they’re carrying your problems and worries away with them. The burden of your problems and worries is lifted from your shoulders, and you are relaxed. You think of nothing but the sun’s warmth and your body’s warmth and heaviness. You are totally relaxed.
You have relaxed all day like this, and now the sun is setting. As you feel the sun leaving, you slowly
open your eyes, feeling wonderfully relaxed and calm. You have no worries; you have no cares. You look at the seagulls, which have left your problems and worries out at sea, and you thank them. Feeling alert, you stand and stretch, feeling the cooling sand between your toes, and you feel terrific. You feel so good that you know the car ride home will be pleasant. You welcome the time to be in your car, at peace, without problems or cares.
You bend down to pick up your beach towel, and as you do, you notice a bright object, there in the sand at your feet. It is a shell (or a sea stone), perfectly shaped, perfectly smooth, and it is your favorite color. You know that this is a gift from your beach to you, a reminder of this day that you can take with you so that you can come back again any time. You look closely at the shell (or stone), noticing its smoothness, its shape, its beautiful color; you run your thumb over its surface and feel how smooth it is. Now you put your shell (or stone) in your pocket where it will always be with you, any time you want to come back to this place.
And now you fold up your towel and leave your beach, taking with you your relaxation and calmness.
You wave goodbye to your beach as you walk away, knowing you can return whenever you want.
Adapted from Greenberg, J. S. (2017). Comprehensive stress management, fourteenth edition. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Education.
In approximately 300 words, describe your experience with this stress management technique, including:
- Have you ever tried this technique before?
- What was your mental, emotional, and/or physical state before we started the exercise?
- What was your mental, emotional, and/or physical state during the exercise?
- What was your mental, emotional, and/or physical state after the exercise?
- Do you think this technique will help you manage stress? Do you think it would be helpful for any of your friends or family?