IMAGINE A RENEWED YOU
Visualisation exercises that will help you improve confidence, reduce stress and boost performance.
When you mentally rehearse performing a move or task, you’re essentially doing it physically as well.
You know that athletes use visualisation to give themselves an edge and calm their nerves before a big competition. (Remember #PhelpsFace from the Olympics?)
“When you imagine yourself performing a task, your muscles contract as though you’re actually doing it. The contractions are so small, you can’t feel them, but it’s enough to strengthen your muscle memory,” says Nicole Detling, an assistant professor of kinesiology and sport science at the University of Utah, and a sports psychology consultant to Olympic athletes.
In other words, when you mentally rehearse a tennis serve or swimming stroke, you’re essentially doing it physically as well. As evidence: People with wrist casts who visualised moving their immobilised muscles lost half as much strength as those who didn’t imagine exercising, research in the Journal of
Neurophysiology found. Visualisation can help hone your technique too. Female basketball players who imagined themselves throwing perfect free throws just before a game wound up making 70 per cent of their shots, while those who didn’t sank 54 per cent, a New Mexico State University study found. It can even rev motivation, according to research in the journal Psychology of
Sport and Exercise. In the study, women who pictured themselves working out were significantly more driven to exercise than those who didn’t.
And now experts are discovering that the perks of visualisation go far beyond fitness. New research has verified its effectiveness for everyone, showing that the technique is extremely powerful at improving confidence, reducing stress and boosting performance. That’s because your brain responds to visualisation the same way your muscles do, says Philip Post, assistant professor of motor learning and sport psychology at New Mexico State University.
“When you imagine yourself reacting a certain way to a certain event – like being calm and in control while giving a speech at a wedding – it strengthens the neurological pathways you need to actually respond that