What is Visualization and Why Do I Need it in My Mental Health Toolkit?
Visualization is one of the easiest and most effective practices for elevating your emotional state, building confidence, and resetting your mind during times of stress. Visualization targets your limbic system, specifically your amygdala.
The amygdala is the emotional control center of the brain that does not respond to language and logic. Its language is emotion and sensory input. That’s where visualization comes in! When we visualize something pulling in sensory details and emotion as if the event was actually happening, our brain doesn’t know the difference! What is so valuable about this is that you can literally transport yourself within minutes to a place of joy and peace. Your brain can go from being on high alert to feeling as if you just returned from a relaxing vacation in paradise.
One of the biggest barriers for young people that are looking to experience the benefits of a mindfulness practice is that physical and mental stillness isn’t developmentally appropriate for kids. Kids are wired to move and be imaginative and movement actually facilitates their brain development, and helps them learn. Movement and learning go hand in hand at this developmental stage. Check out this article on KidSpot, featuring famed parent educator and former teacher, Michael Grose, that supports this approach. This is also why we weave movement into the Happy Spots practice. Interestingly, the amygdala is highly active during the adolescent years and is prone to overactivation and malfunction during this period. This is a fantastic time to train the amygdala to function properly, building resilience and stability that will support adolescents during these trying years and beyond.
Visualization has been shown to:
- Enhance mood
- Reduce Stress and effects of trauma
- Improve Confidence
- Induce Relaxation
- Support Creativity
An effective visualization practice can have similar benefits of meditation without the stillness and silence. An impressive list of professional athletes, artists, and business moguls can be found just by searching the internet, but we suggest giving it a try yourself! Check out how we use visualization in Happy Spots to help kids overcome challenges and fearlessly follow their dreams.