Experts are discovering that the perks of visualization go far beyond fitness. New research has verified its effectiveness on improving confidence, reducing stress, and boosting performance. It just takes 10 minutes a day of visualization to start seeing the benefits. Walk through the important steps to make your imagination a vivid one. Here’s how.
1.First you need a goal
Be sure that what you want to achieve is clear and measurable, then ask yourself exactly what you need to do to make it happen, says Philip Post, Ph.D., assistant professor of motor learning and sport psychology at New Mexico State University. If you want to run faster, the first step is to gradually increase your pace. If your goal is to deliver that great wedding speech, you might start by practicing in front of the mirror to get comfortable reciting it and build your confidence. Being specific about the actions you’ll take to reach a gal lets you create a more targeted mental picture, which in turn activates the corresponding brain pathways, leading to faster, stronger results, Post says.
2.Now add on layers
To begin, imagine yourself doing the action from start to finish-crossing the finish line with perfect form or reciting the speech to applause, for. Then “layer” on your senses, Post says. What will you be seeing, hearing, and even smelling in real life? “You want to try to make the imagery process as functionally equivalent to the physical practice as possible in order to help activate the relevant brain regions to the greatest extent,” he says. “If you’ll be giving a speech, for instance, stand up as you’re visualizing it-you can even put on the same outfit you’ll be wearing on the big day.”
3.Imagine how you’ll overcome obstacles
“Say to yourself, OK, I’m up there in front of the crowd-how do I feel? Maybe you’re nervous and shaky. Imagine how you’ll modify that response by taking a few deep breaths to slow your heart rate or smiling to reassure yourself,” Post says. To run faster, picture your muscles feeling fatigued or sore toward the end of the race, then see yourself maintaining the correct form anyway. “What you’re doing is creating a memory that’s flexible enough to adapt to any circumstances,” Post explains.
4.Finally, pair it with practice
The latest research suggests that combining imagery with actual practice is essential for it to make a substantial difference consistently,” Post says. Do your running-speed work or give your speech to a small group of friends in addition to your mental practice routine. Then, when you’re at the race’s starting line or about to walk out in front of the wedding guests, take a few seconds to quickly cycle through your visualization for one last surge of confidence.