We know people who have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) suffer from haunting images and flashbacks of traumatic events.
Can the opposite apply? If we image positive scenes in our minds, will that have a positive emotional effect?
That may be possible because researchers are finding that there is a close relationship between the human imagery system and our emotions.
Researchers at Smartbrain in Norway trained 30 healthy volunteers in using imagery techniques. They were trained how to cope with past negative emotions from negative events by transforming the images into positive ones. They were also taught how to use positive imagery for future events or goals. The learned other imaging techniques to help improve social interactions and enhance their emotional balance in daily life.
They trained 15-20 minutes per day using these imagery techniques for 12 weeks. After that, they attended a similar 2-day workshop.
The researchers then compared the results of the participant’s psychological assessment and brain activity, or electroencephalographic (EEG), measurement, before and after the experiment.
More Satisfied With Life
They found that the participants were less likely to show symptoms of depression. The volunteers were also more satisfied with life and perceived themselves as more efficient.
When they look at the brains of the participants through EEG, they found significant changes in the right medial prefrontal cortex. This brain region is involved in imaging pleasant emotions and contributing to the degree of satisfaction with life.
There was also evidence that the chemical GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) was released in the brain. This chemical is known to reduce anxiety and depression in people.
The findings indicate that self-guided imagery can have great potential in improving the emotional wellbeing in healthy people.
So try to find 15-20 minutes a day and just relax, and visualize positive images from your life experience. Over time, you could be feeling more happy and great about your life.
Svetla Velikova, Haldor Sjaaheim, Bente Nordtug. Can the Psycho-Emotional State be Optimized by Regular Use of Positive Imagery?, Psychological and Electroencephalographic Study of Self-Guided Training. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 2017; http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fnhum.2016.00664