Creative visualization is a technique that uses your imagination to create positive changes in your life.
You can focus on healing a health issue, learning a new skill, or building self-confidence. Far from being simple daydreaming, research shows that creative visualization is surprisingly effective.
Psychologists believe that your subconscious mind is built on your daily thoughts and experiences. And your subconscious is in charge of your behavior patterns, habits, and feelings.
So, if you regularly think negatively about the world, and view your experiences in a negative way, it’s likely your mood and behavior will reflect this.
Whereas, if you regularly visualize the positive things you want to achieve and experience in life, it’s logical your mind will internalize this and your actions will support it.
Creative visualization is an easy technique that anyone can use to harness the power of your subconscious mind. It works well even if you don’t consider yourself a “visual” person because the process uses all your senses.
Read on to find out the proven benefits of creative visualization and how to use it in your life.
Benefits of Creative Visualization
Creative visualization is a recognized way to help reprogram your subconscious mind. But it also comes with a host of different health benefits.
1. Promotes Better Health
Creative visualization has been shown to benefit many different areas of physical and mental health.
Research has found that a single, 10-minute session of visualization can reduce blood pressure, lower blood glucose and cholesterol, and increase short-term immune cell activity. Visualization can also lessen headaches and pain, as well as shorten healing times.
Visualization may also assist with weight loss. Visualizing yourself as thinner has been shown to improve your motivation to lose weight. Also, a Carnegie Mellon University study found that imagining every detail of food actually caused people to eat less.
Another study showed how visualization can help to quit smoking. After attending four guided imagery sessions, participants were almost twice as likely to abstain from smoking as those who had no visualization. They also felt a greater readiness to quit and less anxiety about the process.
2. Boosts Physical Performance
Mounting research is showing that creative visualization can have a significant impact on physical function and motor skills.
One review found that people were able to increase their muscle strength and performance by over 60 percent by using only visualization techniques.
Interestingly, researchers have measured people’s physical responses during visualization sessions and found they have the following responses while doing nothing but visualizing:
- stronger brain activity
- higher muscle excitation
- greater nervous system activation
- increased blood pressure, heart rate, and respiration rate
This demonstrates how thoughts can, in fact, trigger the same mental and physical responses as actions.
Researchers suggest this is a key factor behind the power of creative visualization.
3. Reduces Stress
Visualization is an excellent way to relax and relieve stress. It’s also been shown to help reduce anxiety as well as musculoskeletal and other types of pain.
Guided imagery is a particularly helpful technique for relaxation. During your visualization session, you would focus on a pleasant or relaxing scene rather than focusing on a practical goal.
You can do this by yourself using the tips given below, or you can purchase recorded guided visualizations that are specifically designed for relaxation.
Creative Visualization Technique
The following steps are the core technique for creative visualization.
Based on these steps, you can try different approaches and adapt the technique to suit your personal needs.
Step 1: Relax
This helps to put your subconscious mind into a more receptive state.
Quietly sit or lie down and take some deep breaths. Pay attention to relaxing all your muscle groups from your head to your toes.
Step 2: Visualize
Gently start imagining your intended outcome. For example, imagine skiing with superb balance and agility, confidently asking your employer for a raise, or successfully beating a health issue.
If you want to simply relax, perhaps imagine yourself in nature, feeling a gentle breeze across your skin and warm sun on your face.
Research has shown that visualization is most effective when you imagine yourself actively involved in the situation rather than watching it. For example, if you want to learn how to rock climb, imagine being on a rock face and physically moving your feet and hands to grip the rock as you climb.
Whereas, visualizing the scene as if you were watching a movie is not as effective.
Step 3: Feel Your Goal
Take a moment to get in touch with how you would feel in your desired situation.
How would it feel to ski like an expert, communicate with ease, or relax on a beach? Vividly imagine your emotions and the physical sensations involved in the experience.
This has been shown to be a very important step in creative visualization because it starts to make your intention feel real.
Remember, your brain responds to thoughts the same way it responds to actions.
Step 4: Believe Your Goal Will Happen
In his famous book Think and Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill claimed that without emotional involvement and belief behind your intentions, you will experience no desirable results.
He went on to say not to be discouraged if this doesn’t happen right away. Effective visualization takes practice, and the more you do it, the more you’ll believe in the results.
Step 5: Let It Go
Once you’re finished your visualization, take a deep breath and move on with your day.
Don’t start making plans or stressing about how to achieve your goal. Allow your subconscious mind time to process the best actions to move forward.
Then keep an open mind about what steps to take next. Inspiration will most likely strike at a later time, you just have to watch for it.
Step 6: Repeat
Try to make a habit of visualizing for about 10 to 15 minutes at least a couple times a week, or more often if possible.
You can work on one goal at a time, or have a different topic for each visualization session. It may also be helpful to keep a notebook of your goals and periodically take note of your progress to see the positive changes over time.