Have you ever been told, if you see it, you can achieve it? Well, what if I told you that this little saying can be backed by scientific research?
The function of our brains in relation to visualization is quite fascinating. Did you know that our brains have the ability to fire and function the same way when you visualize doing an activity as when you are ACTUALLY doing the activity? So crazy, Right?!?!
According to accomplished neuropsycologist, Dr. Amy Palmer, visualization is particularly powerful due to something called the Reticular Activating System in our brains. This area of our brain is essentially a group of neurons that help decide what should be brought into consciousness. Meaning, if we visualize and are mindfully focusing on achieving an activity, or goal, or project; our brains will function in a way to help you meet those goals when you actually set out to do them. Pretty cool.
How It Works
When I am discussing anxiety and stress and how to overcome it with clients, I often use Dr. Palmer’s scientific background on Recovery Addiction Support and how to incorporate visualization practices into your daily routine. A fun visualization activity is creating a vision board. Creating a vision board involves cutting out or copy and pasting PICTURES of our goals, adventures/vacations we want to take, self-care we want to do, and/or things that motivate us and make us happy.
So instead of making lists in our heads; we are creating a vision board to actively see on a daily basis. This helps to remind our brains to seek out self-care, a reminder of what motivates us, and help us to put a little pep in our steps. You may have heard that writing something down physically helps you remember that item – this is the same principle, but it takes it a step further by using visual cues to actually create that activity in the brain.
Try It Yourself
Here is an example of what one might look like. I encourage you to try visualization and all the
places it can take you. Making one yourself can be as simple as searching for the images you want to include on the internet, printing out those images, and gluing them to a sheet of paper. Or you can have some fun with it and really dive into making a board from corkboard and get creative with the visual cues you want to give your brain. Either way accomplishes the goal that we are trying to achieve.
So, have a goal you want to accomplish? A place you want to visit? A new daily ritual you want to establish? Take it beyond the page and into the brain – your only limit it your imagination! Well, maybe you won’t be able to visualize yourself into the power of flight, but you get the point :)
What do you think? Would you want to try a visualization board?
About the Author
Sarah Abegglen, Owner of Abegglen Wellness, Private Practice
My name is Sarah Abegglen. I am a Licensed Clinical Independent Social Worker (LICSW) in the state of Nebraska. I have 15 years of combined experience in social work and therapy. I am an adjunct instructor for the Grace Abbott School of Social Work at the University of Nebraska-Omaha. I work with individuals of all ages. I have specialized training in working with individuals and families affected by trauma, domestic violence, and significant life changes. In addition, I have training to work with LGBTQ+ individuals and am a proud ally. I am also a member of the World Professional Association for Transgender Health. I follow the most up to date standards of care when working with transgender and gender non-conforming individuals.