Have you ever started imagining an event or situation and got so caught up in it?
Did it seem ever so realistic until you were jolted out of your thoughts by something or someone?
Well that’s a great example of visualisation.
Some people say that they can’t visualise or aren’t very good at it, but if you were asked to think of a blue elephant wearing a pink tutu, what would come to mind? Probably, an image of …yes…a blue elephant in a pink tutu. Your version may be still or moving; it may be a cartoon image or like a painting or a photograph; it may be 2D or 3D, whilst your child, were they asked to think of the same image, may be ‘seeing’ a variation of what you just have.
It doesn’t matter.
What’s important is that you just visualised….and visualisation is an important yet easy technique to teach your child when they’re feeling overwhelmed and scared and worried, and all you want them to do is be calmer, relaxed…and happier, really.
Whatever we visualise, our brain – specifically our amygdala – will believe. The amygdala is an almond-shaped group of neurons in our brain. It helps us process our emotions and tries to protect us, but often in its attempt to do so, can mistake stress for a real live threat. As our imagination is so powerful, the amygdala will be on alert, ready to protect us if it perceives we’re feeling stressed.
So, encourage your child to imagine a safe place that they can go to in their mind whenever they want. Whatever place they visualise, the amygdala will begin to believe they’re there; the body’s entire cells will begin to believe they’re there (in the same way, when we visualise doing something successfully, our cells work together to make it happen.)
They may imagine a warm beach, a lush green mountain, a tranquil forest with just the gentle sound of birds in the distance, perhaps a beautiful garden…it doesn’t matter, as long as it’s a place they feel safe and tranquil.
Encourage them to really build up a detailed picture:
What can they see?
What can they hear?
What’s the temperature they feel on their skin?
What they feel under their feet as they’re standing, sitting and walking?
Incorporate these into their ‘journey’ as they stand or walk around in their special, safe place.
Give this a go …. do it alongside your child if you can, with your own unique safe place.
Practice is key, and this is a great free, simple way to rest and take a breather from the world around you for a while!