Two weeks ago I was soaking up the sun on a sandy beach in Australia. Two days ago I was exploring the Amazon rainforest. Next week, I’m going to take time out of my busy schedule to relax in Fiji. Alright, you’ve got me! I’m only messing, but recently I have started using and recommending the power of visualisation to instantly feel chilled out from a hard days work and to assist with recovery from intense training sessions.
Working long hours or going through a tough time at home or work will stress your body out. This in turn will raise your levels of the hormone cortisol. Excess cortisol is bad news, and will effect your ability to train, lose fat and build muscle. One simple way to try and combat this is to use your imagination to visualise a scene in such detail it actually effects your mood and outlook. The subconscious mind can’t differentiate between what is perceived and what is real. Therefor if you can imagine something so vividly the body will react as if its actually experiencing it.
Creative visualisation will help you de-stress, ease anxiety and lower blood pressure. It also works well as a way to calm yourself before a big nerve-racking event such as a job interview or sports game final. 15 mins in this deeply relaxed state could equate up to the equivalent of an hours sleep. I know, this all sounds rather spiritual, but honestly give it a go. Follow the guidelines below to take advantage of the power of visualisation:
– Find a quiet, dark room. Choose a place where you know you will not be disturbed. Close your eyes, take deep breaths and you’ll start to feel your muscles relax. Imagine you’re in beautiful surroundings. It could be a holiday you’ve been on in the past, or you can conjure up something from your imagination.
– Use your senses of sight, sound, taste and smell, put yourself in the scene and and allow it to come to life. Revel in the colours, smells and sounds. You could experiment with iPhone apps that contain sound samples of different scenes such as the beach or a tropical rainforest. By playing them with your headphones on, you’ll be able to block the rest of the world out and make the scene more realistic.
– Stay in the scene for as long as possible, soaking up all the details. Then slowly bring yourself back into the room.
– Try this technique 1-2 times a week or whenever you feel stressed to help recover from exercise and everyday life. If you really want to maximise the benefits, try performing in an Epsom salt-filled hot bath.