10 Health Benefits of Visualization

Katie Sweeney

A while back, my best friend told me she had started visualizing, a practice wherein you use mental imagery to achieve something. Whenever she would start having a bad day at work or get into bed and stress about all the things she had to do, she would take a deep breath and imagine herself sitting on a beach in an exotic location. One of her longtime goals is to spend a year traveling the world and only visiting beachside destinations. Visualizing herself on that beach would make her better able to face daily challenges and remind her that there is more to life than work drama. She thought about it so much that when she realized that she was at a point in her life where she could finally go, she almost instinctually took the necessary steps to turn her vision into a reality. She leaves for her worldwide beach tour in less than a week!

My friend’s practice of visualization inspired me to start my own positive daydreaming sessions, and although I don’t have a success story yet, I’m encouraging you to do the same. Whatever you want in life, visualize it. A healthier body, a loving relationship, or increased confidence—if you can visualize yourself doing something that you want to do, you’re more likely to actually achieve it. Not only will you be that much closer to reaching your goals, but visualization also has a slew of beneficial side effects. Learn more about them below.

  1. It improves your performance. Professional athletes—everyone from golfer Tiger Woods to Arnold Schwarzenegger, who was a weightlifter before he became an actor—have practiced visualization techniques for decades, but mental imagery is also used by politicians, surgeons, musicians, and business executives to improve their performance. New York City psychologist Daniel Kadish says, “Everyone can use imagery to prepare for all kinds of situations, including public presentations and difficult interactions.”
  2. It helps you reach your potential. While imagining that you can run a 10K won’t actually make you physically capable of doing it, full sensory visualization can help you reach your potential and clearly define new goals.
  3. It reduces stress. Similar to meditation, visualization is a form of relaxation. The simple act of picturing yourself happily putting on tennis shoes, strapping on your helmet, hopping on your bike, and going wine tasting by bike through France will instantly quiet your mind.
  4. It brings joy into your life. When my friend was angry at work, thinking about the beach made her happy. While she wasn’t actually on the beach, imagining herself in that moment—the ocean breeze blowing through her hair, the hot sand under her toes, a cold beer in her hand—brought her joy.
  5. It increases focus. Anytime you’re sitting quietly and simply being one with yourself, you are improving your ability to focus. Why? Because you are no longer bound by the restrictions of your day.
  6. It can spark inspiration. Constantly thinking about writing that book will increase your chances of actually doing it. The visuals could inspire a storyline that forces you to take action.
  7. It boosts confidence. As you imagine yourself doing the things you want to do, you naturally begin to be more confident and believe you are capable of achieving them.
  8. If you’re sick, it can make you better faster. It sounds crazy, but if you visualize your body rebuilding itself, it will begin to respond. Sort of in the same way that a hypochondriac convinces himself that he is sick, a positive mental imagery can improve your health.
  9. It makes you more creative. A good mental image is a detail-oriented picture that invigorates all the senses. What do you smell? What is the temperature outside? What does it taste like? The more vivid the visual, the stronger the results will be.
  10. It can help you overcome nervousness. If you’re feeling anxious about an upcoming speech, visualize yourself giving the best most memorable speech ever. Imagine yourself in a great dress and everyone applauding after you’re done. Visualization is a safe and easy way to combat nerves and anxiety.

Below are four books that will teach you more about visualization.

Have you ever visualized something positive that later happened in real life?

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