I hope you’ve had a good weekend! I’m noticing the mornings are getting darker and I’m not exactly what you’d call a morning person, (even though I’d like to be) and even less so in the winter!
So… to begin the experiment!
In the last blog I mentioned a technique I learnt and have been using that Olympic athletes also use which has proved to be really effective.
It’s called Visualization and after much research and testing in the 1970s, it has been used as a really powerful tool to prepare and focus yourself. I know how much anxiety and worry can deplete energy so I’m thinking this is a good place to start.
Benefits include a reduction in stress, more confidence, higher levels of happiness and creativity, and a better likelihood of realizing your potential. It can also help you recover more quickly during a cold or virus. Seriously?
It’s not that I’m a sceptic but until I started trying this a few years ago, I’m not sure I’d have believed in its power.
How does it work?
Again, this uses our mind-body connection to bring about positive changes mentally, physically and emotionally through our thought processes. The more I learn, the more vital it seems to understand and use this connection for our own benefit.
What actually is it?
I have learnt it to mean visualizing situations in the way you would hope and want them to turn out. But in intense detail. Consistently! The brain seems to respond well to consistency and detail.
In fact, what’s fascinating is that our brains aren’t able to distinguish between our imagination and reality!
When I freak out about a situation coming up, something I’ll find difficult or is making me anxious, I sometimes imagine in detail the worst case scenario, less now than I used to, but still….. a lot of the time the threat isn’t real and this isn’t necessary. However, imagining these things actually brings about the same physical reactions in my body as if it had just happened: breathlessness, a sick feeling in my gut, my heart speeds up… all pretty negative effects. A good example of something starting off in my mind but playing out in my body. It’s so powerful because my brain thinks it’s actually happened for real.
Surely the same could work if we use our imaginations in the same way but positively?
The physical and mental effects are then also positive. So an example: interviewing for a new job. At any point where I’d feel anxious or doubtful of myself, I’d sit down for a few minutes and picture myself going into the interview and I’d play it out positively exactly how I’d like it to happen in real life. I’d go through my senses one by one; what I can see, how I can hear myself talking clearly, confidently, how my new shirt feels on my skin, how the people I’m talking to are responding positively etc etc. I address each sense and in great detail I create the perfect situation. By visualizing it, I also make sure I “feel it” and those positive effects. This helps us feel more confident in going through the situation for real as we have already prepared and done it successfully multiple times, even though it’s only in our minds.
It isn’t limited to just one-off situations: I used it to help myself feel strong physically when I felt rundown over a period of a few weeks. I visualized a time when I’d done a pilates class and felt strong and energetic. These positive feelings helped to override an old fear of becoming ill because I did the same visualization consistently during this time. My brain learnt that I’m thinking about this new (positive) situation more and creates a strong pathway, but at the same time weakens the connection which took me down the old (negative) route, because it isn’t used as much anymore. The bonus is that it acts as a form of mental relaxation and mindfulness at the same time!
⊕ I’m going to do a little midweek blog too with an example of how to do a visualization, plus ideas to make it varied and effective. Let me know how this works for you and if you need further information, there is plenty available online. I’ll be doing this over the next few weeks and will let you know how it’s been working for me and whether it’s helped my energy and happiness levels! Let me know if you give it a try.