Organisme Formateur agréé par Emploi-Québec - Agrément # 0057911

Le blogue de Solutions & Co.

Le blogue de Solutions & Co.

MENTAL IMAGERY: THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PERFORMANCE

The next two articles are dedicated to mental imagery. This first article focuses on explaining this science-based technique, how it contributes to performance, and how it can help develop emotional intelligence for use in learning and integrating soft skills within our professional environment.

What is mental imagery?

Mental imagery is the act of representing sensory states mentally, which can include visual, auditory, olfactory, taste, and proprioceptive states, among others. It is a mental training technique that productive people use to prepare for action, repeating and training their thoughts, feelings and behaviours in order to optimize their performance and well-being.

It is used effectively in many areas, including by those working in sports psychology, psychotherapists, psychologists and remedial teachers. In psychiatry, mental imagery is used in cognitive-behavioural therapies, particularly for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and social phobia. In the field of sport, mental imagery is a very effective method used by elite athletes as part of their mental preparation to accomplish very specific goals. In therapeutics, teaching, or personal development, mental imagery is used to induce physical, cognitive, or behavioural changes.

There are many reasons to use mental imagery:

  • To psychologically prepare for a future situation
  • To achieve a specific goal
  • To anticipate a possible future stress
  • To adapt or master difficult situations
  • To improve the healing process
  • To calm and control stress.
  • To change or improve a behaviour
  • To optimize or develop certain skills
  • Etc.

Supported by scientific evidence

When we physically learn to do something, the brain changes. Mental imagery is a cognitive process that stimulates the same brain areas involved in the unconscious planning and execution of movements and activates neuronal and behavioural responses similar to actual experience. Neural connections are strengthened, connections are added or removed, and new cells are formed.

Mental imagery is a scientifically proven technique that maximizes the brain’s potential through images. Through the use of brain imaging techniques, such as PET-Scans with radiotracers and functional MRIs (fMRI), it has been shown that the same regions of the brain are activated when we experience a real-life situation as during an exercise in mental imagery, and that the regions related to retinotopy (peripheral vision and/or central vision) are stimulated and reflect the same neuronal model found during the movement’s execution.

Imaging affects more than the muscles, producing cardiovascular and respiratory responses. By vividly imagining tomorrow's stressful meeting, your heart rate increases and your breathing becomes short and shallow, as in real life. This functional equivalence extends to the neural activity that occurs when you see, hear, and smell things in visual, auditory, and olfactory imagery. The same neural process activated when you perceive things with your senses is recreated when you vividly imagine them.

In short, the brain does not recognize the difference between what it really experiences and what it imagines. This is a gray area from which we can benefit!

Improving emotional intelligence

Although mental imagery is frequently used to improve physical performance, it can also help improve activities that include a cognitive and emotional component, such as emotion and stress management or speaking in public.

Our work environments present us with constant constraints, such as angry clients, unpleasant colleagues, demanding superiors, goals to be achieved, recurring problems, and performance requirements, so it is easy to feel overworked, overwhelmed and to have a "short fuse". Whatever our roles, we sometimes find ourselves in difficult situations that lead to an outpouring of emotions.

It is in our best interests to master our emotions. Athletes regulate their emotions before competitions to help them perform better, and soldiers regulate their emotions before going to battle to avoid emotional collapses.

Mental imagery is an excellent technique for regaining control and balancing and reinforcing our emotional stamina. Taking a step back from our emotions and watching them as a detached observer changes the way the brain processes feelings.

Brain imaging studies show that this practice reduces activity in a highly emotional area of the brain, while stimulating an area linked to controlling your physical response to stress - a mental recoil that says, "What’s really happening here? How can I respond?” In other words, you are aware of your emotions rather than expressing them.

Mental imagery conditions our brain, making it more likely to act according to mental representation, resulting in true learning and development of this imagined skill. If you have prepared for this situation, you can simply take the appropriate action you have previously developed and practiced.

 In this article I wanted to make this science-based technique credible and explain how it helps with performance, be it physical or emotional. Start exploring it, and in the next article we will be able to focus on the process and steps required to incorporate it into your professional toolbox as a regular practice. See you soon!

  15 lectures
15 lectures

Tips & Co. #369 - A speedy trick to boost your health at your desk

A study in Health Psychology found that people who sit up straighter feel stronger, more energized and positive, than their slouchy counterparts.

Before you start to sag on your chair, stretch – you don’t even have to stand up. Reach overhead, cross your right arm over your left arm and touch your palms.

Reach for the stars for 5 seconds. This helps to lengthen your spine and open up the ribcage. You’ll release the tension that makes it so easy to slump. Then sit back upright and maintain a good posture.

  71 lectures
Mots-clés :
71 lectures

Tips & Co. #358 - Not being unhappy does not mean that you are happy!

According to Barbara Fredrickson, one of the pioneers of positive psychology and author of Love 2.0: “Positive emotions open the mind and broaden the range of both thoughts and actions. They result in accommodating, welcoming, creative and receptive behaviours.”

Positive emotions such as joy, happiness, gratitude, wonder, enthusiasm, inspiration and love are the sources of deep satisfaction.

In contrast to depression, sadness or disappointment, which usually become part of a vicious cycle, positive emotions lead to a positive cycle as they help us welcome new ideas and experiences and influence how we deal with adversity.

Careful... This does not mean that emotions are simply reduced to a system of neutrality. Positive emotions are not achieved simply through the absence of negative emotions.

As such, removing negative emotions is not sufficient and we must actively develop positive emotions in order to expand our intellectual and emotional universe.

  193 lectures
193 lectures

Tips & Co. #353 - When rejection occurs

If you seek to make a change or do something important, your work might be rejected along the way.

What will you do after that?

Instead of losing hope, deciding to back off, keeping your head low and do what you're told from now on, or worse, learn nothing and persist. Why don’t you:

  • Realize that what might have happened is that you asked the wrong person, who wants something other than what you want. Resolve to do a better job of seeing where your work will be needed and recognized.
  • Accept that you didn't tell a story that resonated, that your homework, your details, your promise--something didn't resonate. Figure out what it was, and learn to do better next time.

It takes grit and resilience, but it will be better than being terminally frustrated.

  214 lectures
Mots-clés :
214 lectures

Tips & Co. #348 - There is no empathy in snap judgments

Snap judgments are a biological necessity handed down from our ancestors. Often a glance was the only thing they had to go on when sizing up their surroundings and calculating risk. But in our modern world, it’s a little odd to be lugging around baggage full of biases that shape and warp our perception.

We shouldn’t question every experience, but sociologist Janis Prince, PhD suggests that we try to be occasionally conscious of the flawed or problematic ideas our unconscious might be hinting at.

The next time you find yourself rushing to judgement, about a customer or a colleague, try asking yourself these questions:

• What other explanations are there for this situation?
• How might I feel if I were the other party in this situation?
• How might the other party describe this situation, if they were recounting it?

  223 lectures
Mots-clés :
223 lectures

Les participants le disent…


« Vraiment une formation extraordinaire, et habituellement, je suis très critique! Tout le personnel devrait suivre cette formation, il y aurait un gain d’efficacité! »

Ville de Québec

Témoignages des participants

…et nos clients aussi!

« C’est avec un grand professionnalisme que l’entreprise a offert une formation attrayante et de qualité à nos employés. Nous sommes particulièrement satisfaits des résultats obtenus grâce à cette intervention et il nous fera plaisir de retravailler avec Solutions & Co. dans l’avenir. »

Xavier Aymé, Chef des opérations | Mercator Canada Inc.

Témoignages des clients

Prêt à passer à l’action?

Contactez-nous pour planifier votre formation

Contactez-nous par téléphone au 514 365-8397, par courriel au info@solutionsandco.com ou remplissez le formulaire ci-contre et nous communiquerons avec vous dans les plus brefs délais pour discuter de votre projet de formation.

Form by ChronoForms - ChronoEngine.com