Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Can You See It Now?

Picture this. You’re hungry. In your mind you can picture dozens of food possibilities, and some of them will look more appetizing than others. But remember, this is only in your mind at this point. Now you can create a choice in your mind. You can visualize exactly what you are going to do—in this instance what you are going to eat. Focus in on what you are seeing.

You know the choice is up to you, and you also know you can make a nutritious choice or one that’s nothing more than empty calories. If you focus on picturing the healthier choice you have taken a positive step, and one that can be repeated over and over.

Using imagination to create mental images of what we want in our lives is not a new technique, but it has the potential to help us all achieve the goals we set for ourselves. Visual imagery in sports is used by athletes to improve their games and skills, resulting in better performance. Athletes don’t start out picturing defeat.

Visualization is more than just self-talk. By imagining and honing in on the image you are creating you physiologically create neural patterns in your brain, as if you had physically performed the action you visualized. That thought process can stimulate the nervous system the same way the actual event does.

Back to the example of competitive athletes. Sure, physical skills are required, but so is a strong mental game. Studies have shown that sports outcomes are 90 percent mental and only 10 percent physical.

And, with visualization, it’s actually OK to supersize. Try to feel, smell and taste everything in order to imagine it as vividly as you can. You’re already using visualization throughout the day, even if you don’t realize it—now you can take conscious control, making it work for you.

Applied to wellness, imagine what you can accomplish by visualizing yourself making positive choices that contribute to positive lifestyle behavior changes. Practice a run-through of the choices you know you will make each day. Envision yourself achieving your goals, remind yourself of your objectives and what you need to do to reach them. See your success.

Visualization may not solve our country’s health care crisis, but don’t you think it’s worth a shot to solve your own?

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