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The Power of Visualization Recovery: Part 1

The human brain is an incredibly powerful tool capable of processing tons of sensory information from touch, taste, smell, sight, and sound. Throughout a lifetime, the brain can catalog an infinite amount of memories attached to each of these sensations, and it can use this data to project foresight and visualization. Visualizing involves using the mind’s imagination to envision ideas and understand problems, but it also helps with productivity, decision-making, and overcoming challenges. The many benefits of visualization are vital for people in addiction recovery, and unlocking them can spark a journey of self-improvement and healing.

How does it help?

For people struggling with substance use disorder and related mental illnesses, imagining scenarios and playing them out mentally can help with overcoming difficulties with negative emotions. When a problem occurs, instead of dwelling and catastrophizing the incident, the brain instead kicks into problem-solving mode by immediately envisioning a positive solution or outcome.

Someone in recovery who envisions what their life will be like six months, three years, or ten years into the future is likely to create specific goals for themselves and focus on their vision as they overcome roadblocks along the way. Their visualization allows them to better navigate potential circumstances in a safe environment (their imagination) and process their emotions given these hypothetical scenarios.

Many exceptional people use visualization as a tool for success, such as athletes, for example, picturing themselves crossing the finish line or scoring an important, game-winning point. The purpose isn’t to live in a fantasy future but rather to envision the ultimate goal using sensory information stored in the brain from a lifetime of experiences. Being mindful of visualization also urges people to develop heightened awareness in the present to retain more data for their brains to help them with their visions.

Visualization can also help with the following:

Motivation: It can be hard to stay on track when times are tough, and no one wakes up every single day feeling 100% ready to take on the world. Keeping a visual goal in mind can remind people of their aspirations and keep them working hard towards their end goal.

Confidence: Although success is merely a vision, the image of future success can boost one’s self-esteem. “Fake it till you make it” actually does work! Increasing self-worth is also necessary for achieving goals that, at times, may feel like they’re out of reach.

Anxiety: Stress management is crucial for overcoming triggers in recovery, and visualizations can help intercept intrusive thoughts and negative thought spirals. Picturing a positive outcome isn’t simply “wishing” nor “having faith” the worst won’t happen. It can help people take precautions or develop ideas to ensure things go as they hope.

Preparation: Rehearsing situations in the mind can prepare the body to act more efficiently in real-time, almost like a mental practice run. People who struggle to perform under pressure benefit greatly from envisioning themselves successfully completing a task or handling a high-stakes situation.

RSONM provides addiction treatment for people who have been picturing how their lives would be without the harm of substance misuse. These goals are attainable, especially with the help of specialized medical providers, nurses, and substance use counselors who offer expert support along the way. To learn more about the treatment programs available, message or call a nearby RSONM location today.


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