Relaxation methods for sickle cell pain: Relaxation with imagery

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Relaxation with imagery involves imagining yourself in a pleasant place or situation and relaxing your muscles to improve blood flow. Learn how to practise relaxation with imagery.

Key points

  • For this type of exercise, you will need to focus only on the muscles you want to relax and not your surroundings. You can do this by following instructions to help you imagine yourself in a pleasant place or location.
  • Thinking of something pleasant helps your body to become more relaxed and forces your brain to focus on something other than your pain.
  • To get the most out of this exercise, find a quiet, comfortable place and remove any distractions before starting.

This type of exercise also involves relaxing your muscles to improve blood flow. It requires you to focus only on the muscles that you are trying to relax, and not on your surroundings.

When you use imagery, you are literally thinking of an image of something pleasant so that your body becomes more relaxed. Imagery can also be a welcome distraction because it forces your brain to focus on something besides your pain.

With guided imagery, you follow instructions that will help you imagine yourself in a pleasant place or situation. For imagery to work, you should be as involved as possible in the scene you are creating. In fact, imagery works better when you use involve all five senses—sight, sound, smell, taste and touch—to create the scene. The more involved you are, the harder it will be to pay attention to other thoughts and sensations (such as pain).

How do I practise relaxation with imagery?

The audio recording below will guide you through the muscle relaxation with imagery exercise. As you did with the progressive muscle relaxation exercise, find a comfortable, quiet place to sit or lie down and remove any distractions before you start the audio.


Last updated: November 22nd 2023