Today, I want to share something different with you all. It’s a visualization exercise for anxiety and stress that I do quite often, especially now that I live in New York City. I know that living with chronic illness can become overwhelming at times. Anxiety and depression are common comorbidities, and we often deal with a lot of extra stress due to our conditions. So, below, I’ll share with you this visualization exercise I do, along with some tips for creating your own.
For me, there’s something so tranquil and restorative about the solitude of being out on a kayak in the middle of a lake nestled deep in the Adirondacks. I love the sound of the water lapping against the boat as I paddle through the water with large, sweeping strokes — the swishing and gurgling and churning sounds as I push the water behind me.
Yet, nature is so still and calm around me. The tall pines loom over the lake’s edge like a fence, keeping the peace inside. The lily pads float lazily on the water’s surface. The breeze blows that cool Adirondack mountain air—heavily scented with pine and damp earth—past my nose. A loon pops to the surface, breaks the still water that glistens like glass, and wails a long, somber tone that echoes to the sky.
There’s something about all that stillness, all that balance and beauty, that seeps into my skin. Permeating every cell of my body until all the chaos and noise within me stills as well. In their vast size, these lakes, woods, rivers, and mountains consume my meager self in comparison. It surrounds me, fills me, becomes a part of me that feels almost as vital as breathing.
And this is why I love coming up here — to the Adirondacks. Why I love to immerse myself in this atmosphere. Every rambling thought, every worry, every excessive and unnecessary moment spent brooding over something out of my control dissipates into a fine mist, too fine to even grab hold of. And it’s just me, the kayak, the lake, and nature. There’s no room or need for anything else.
My mind stills. My heart fills with content. Breath finds its way deep into my belly. I see the beauty in everything.
In these moments, I am balanced. I feel whole and restored. And I become ready to take my newfound bliss back with me to shore. To my life outside these mountains.
In moments when I find I am harboring excessive worry, anxiety, stress, or feel my world has spun with too much chaos, I can close my eyes. I can picture myself in that kayak on the lake, peaceful and blissful in my solitude. I can recall every sensory detail of being out on that water, and the whole experience comes flooding back to me. Almost like I’m there.
This visualization exercise for anxiety is not the same as being there physically, of course. But visualization is a powerful mental tool. You’d be surprised how much better you can feel by letting your mind wander to your favorite place.
I find that having many sensory details to draw on helps to better immerse myself in the visualization exercise. So, the next time you’re in your favorite place, take note of all the details around you. What makes it so special to you? What do you love about it? What can you see, smell, hear, feel, or even taste? How does being there make you feel? Bring these details with you whenever you need to pause and reset with visualization.
And maybe you won’t find your restorative bliss out on a lake with your butt sunken deep into a kayak. Maybe your restorative bliss is found on a beach or near the ocean. Maybe it’s the property you grew up on. Perhaps it’s under a weeping willow overlooking miles of rolling country. You can find it anywhere.
The point is, you have to discover these places for yourself. And if you can’t always be there, gather every sensory detail you can from your special place and imprint it in your memory. That way, when you close your eyes and practice this visualization exercise, you can find a piece of restorative bliss whenever you want to.
Like this content? Be sure to share it on social and pin it for later! And check out my other content for mental health and inspiration, like the transformative power of perspective and how to get through bad days with chronic illness.