Guided imagery may be a beneficial mind-body technique for people seeking to manage physical and mental fatigue, but more research is required to identify how often and how long it should be practiced for best effect, as well as what scripts best stimulate fatigue-focused imagery. Researchers have defined imagery, a mental function, as “a lived experience that is a dynamic, quasi-real, psychophysiological process.”
Victoria Menzies, RN, PhD, and Nancy Jallo, RNC, PhD, FNP-BC, from Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) in Richmond, Virginia, conducted a literature review of studies that used guided imagery as an intervention for the symptom of fatigue. They found eight studies that met the inclusion criteria: fatigue as a dependent variable, use of guided imagery without music, no hypnosis and results published in English. Studies had inconsistent designs, and investigators recommended that future research use systematic well-designed methodologies that measure total duration of exposure and include targeted imagery.
Menzies, lead study author and assistant professor at the VCU School of Nursing, said, “Over the trajectory of the work I’ve done with guided imagery as an adjunctive mind-body therapy for persons diagnosed with fibromyalgia, to date I’ve found that adding a ‘daily dose’ of guided imagery using an audiotaped recording has made a difference in stress, pain, fatigue and mood state for some individuals. . . . My future research goals include helping to discover which individuals would benefit most from either a passive [intervention]—like guided imagery—or a more active mind-body intervention—like yoga or tai chi—so that individuals may be able to focus their adjunctive health strategies more quickly to their immediate advantage.”
The literature review was published in the Journal of Holistic Nursing (2011; doi: 10.1177/0898010111412187).