In the 1976 Olympics, the Russians were accused of cheating due to their racking up gold medals in nearly every event. Rumors and assumptions were made they had to be abusing drugs to be winning these medals at an unprecedented number. But as the passing drug tests proved the world wrong, curiosity was at an all time high. There had to be SOMETHING going on for this success to be sustained. High pressure was put on the Russian team to come clean. What was their secret for their amazing success???
Do you know?...
Can you picture it?...
The Russians were committed to try anything to gain success, even if it seemed strange and uncomfortable. And in the end, their visualization practice passed the test with flying colors.
What the Russians found through their practice is those who visualized the most, performed the best. Even in physical and low mental effort sports such as weight lifting, the more those athletes visualized, the better they performed. This began a new phenomenon of visualization in sports.
Ok...but tell me HOW the Russians put visualization into practice?
One thing the athletes did was to physically go to the Olympic site before the games began so they could clearly see where they would be performing during the actual Olympic games.
Visualization practice should encompass most of your five senses.
For the Russian weightlifters, they would mentally visualize being at the live event in front of the audience and think through every detail of what it would be like. What smells did they imagine during the event? What did the crowd sound like? They would see themselves walking up to the Olympic bar that had the exact weight they needed to lift. They put chalk on their hands, placed the bar on their bodies, and felt it as if they were there in real time. Sounds simple, but it proved results.
What goals or dreams do you have for yourself that you could use the power of visualization to see, hear, smell yourself achieving? What have you been trying to achieve, but for whatever reason, you have not succeeded as of yet? Will you try visualization? There’s no harm (or side effects in trying.
Visualization works based on the principles of the law of attraction. The more you focus your mind on the things you want, the more likely it is that the wants will manifest into reality. This likely will not come naturally, but the more you practice, the easier it will be. Here are a few tips to get started:
1. Get in the right mindset: try to clear your racing thoughts from the day and your to-do lists and calm your mind. Reflect on things you are grateful for, listen to music or go for a walk prior to starting to shift your thinking into a positive mindset.
2. Use ALL 5 senses! Smell, taste, touch, hearing, and sight...use them all to imagine yourself in the place you are dreaming about and achieving your goal. Focus on these details. What does the air smell like? Who else is with you and what do their voices sound like? What are you holding in your hands and how does that feel to touch? What clothes do you have on and what do you see around you? What smells are surrounding you?
3. Put emotions into the visualization exercise-really feel happy, loved, successful, accomplished, free when visualizing your goals, as this makes the exercise more powerful! If this is difficult for you to raise certain emotions, think back on a time when you did experience this emotion and capture how you felt. Then start your visualization as you maintain those emotions by reliving a particular situation and allow them to seep into your visualization activity..
4. Be clear on your goals! Be specific in what you desire. Don’t be too broad. You want to win the Olympic gold medal in bench press, not I would like to be successful at the Olympic games this year. The more specific the goal, the better your visualization.
5. Practice!! This again is likely not going to feel super comfortable from the beginning but does get easier with time and experience. I’m sure the Russian weightlifters thought this was hocus pocus at the beginning. But the more they practiced, and saw the effects of their practice, I’m sure it became easier and more natural. The more you practice visualizing, the easier it will be to accept your visualizations as a part of your current reality.
Give yourself some time to put your dreams down on paper. Then just start. It doesn’t have to be perfect or pretty, just start tasting, smelling, hearing how that dream feels. I’m sure the Russian Olympians were extremely glad they tried this exercise as they smelled, heard, and touched all those gold medals.
The Happy PharmD team is hosting a Wellness Retreat on 1/16 where we will give you examples of how to start incorporating this practice. You will be with other #pharmacists who want to dedicate themselves to self-care in 2021. We would love to have you join us!
Click here to join the Wellness Retreat.
Julie Kidd is passionate about elevating the profession of pharmacy and utilizing pharmacists’ skills and knowledge to help patients. She has had a wide range of experience during her pharmacy career including hospital pharmacy, academia, and ambulatory care. She currently works on a multi-disciplinary team to care for patients living with Multiple Sclerosis (MS).
She is currently studying Integrative Medicine in order to treat patients as holistically as possible to maximize their health outcomes. She loves connecting with other pharmacists and exploring non-traditional ideas of how to create new services for pharmacists.
At The Happy PharmD, she helps coach pharmacists who are dedicated to understanding what they value in life and seeking that in their career.
While not at work, she loves spending time with her husband and two sons as well as biking, yoga, and hiking.