1st September 2020
by HealthyMe Digital

You may have read or heard about visualisation but not been sure where to start. We will give you a quick overview of it and then walk you through some easy steps. These can be incorporated into your daily routine.

Mental imagery or visualisation has long been employed by professional athletes to boost their strength, confidence, and results, but the technique is good for more than just sports.  Everyone can use imagery to prepare for all kinds of situations, whether at home, work or play.

How It Works

Scientists believe that we experience real-world and imaginary actions in similar ways.  Studies show that whether we walk on a mountain trail or only picture it, we activate many of the same neural networks —paths of interconnected nerve cells that link what your body does to the brain impulses that control it. You can use this to your advantage in different ways. For example, imagining yourself doing physical movements can help you get better at them: Legendary golfer Jack Nicklaus practised each shot in his mind before taking it.

Mental workouts also stimulate the sympathetic nervous system, which governs our fight-or-flight response and causes increases in heart rate, breathing, and blood pressure. So simply envisioning a movement elicits nervous-system responses comparable to those recorded during physical execution of the same action.

Some research suggests that visualisation can help you get results even when you don’t move a muscle. In one notable study that appeared in the North American Journal of Psychology in 2007, athletes who mentally practised a hip-flexor exercise had strength gains that were almost as significant as those in people who actually did the exercise (five times a week for 15 minutes) on a weight machine.

Ready to have a go?

FIRST: Decide what you want to do: pass an exam, get a promotion, meet someone new, make lots of money, be more confident, win the tennis game etc.

SECOND: Relax. Spend several minutes unwinding so you are comfortable in body and mind

THIRD: Spend 5-10 minutes visualising that reality you want.

Some important tips

  1. Use all your senses. Mental imagery is often referred to as visualization, but it’s not limited to the visual.  The most effective imagery involves using all your senses.  What are you smelling, hearing, feeling, tasting and saying?  Immerse yourself in the mental image so that it feels as if it is happening. Always visualise your goal if it’s actually happening to you right now. Make it real in your mind and make it detailed.
  2. Be the star, not the audience. To engage in your practice fully, imagine performing the activity from your own perspective.  Be the movie, rather than viewing the movie. 
  3. Practice.  Effective mental imagery is not wishful thinking, nor is it brief moments of ‘seeing’ success the only way we get better at mental imagery is by practising it regularly. 
  4. Write it down. If you really want to hone your efforts, put the story of how your feat will unfold in writing and then visualise it and create it in your mind, in every aspect.
  5. Have Fun - It’s all about having fun with it. The more you practice the better you will get and the more you will enjoy all that you create.

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