In today’s busy world, few of us can invest time exercising and conditioning our bodies. While nothing can replace an actual physical work-out, using the power of the mind to improve physical performance is an excellent “next best thing” for those whose schedules are too demanding for a visit to the gym. Whether you’re a professional swimmer who needs to aim for the perfect dive, or a salesperson who needs energy to run from house to house, there’s a lot mental imagery can do to make you feel you’re in tip top shape.

The following are 3 simple ways you can use mental imagery to improve physical performance:

Maintaining Intensity

It’s the end of the day and you’re already feeling tired. Don’t worry; it’s normal for energy resources to go on the low when you’ve already accomplished much. But are you aware that your body is designed to maintain a high level of intensity when it needs the boost? If you’re putting enough carbohydrates in your diet, know that your body naturally stores calories for emergencies. And your endocrine glands are more than capable of producing adrenalin when it thinks you need to step up your game.

So if you’re always finding yourself fatigued just when the day is going competitive, use mental imagery to maintain your intensity. Decide to go out and work with the same energy level you had when you were starting out. Draw on your positive emotions, as well as the passion you have for your sport or your job. And flash power words in your mind for that extra push! Phrases like “exploding power”, “amazing endurance” and “optimally charged!” can make you a better physical player than you give yourself credit for.

Mentally Rehearse Peak Performance

Mentally preparing yourself for the task ahead is an excellent way to use the power of the mind to improve physical performance. You’re aware that anxiety makes you miss the hoop during basketball? Then mentally rehearse quashing the apprehension even before the referee blows his whistle. You know that the holidays mean waiting on more tables than the usual? Then invest five minutes imagining yourself weaving gracefully across your restaurant.

Olympic pistol shooting champion Linda Thom always starts a competition by mentally going through a shot-plan. Her rehearsal is a mix of images and word reminders. The simple ritual helps her focus on what she needs to do and better yet, improves her over-all physical performance!

Finding Relaxation in the Midst of Hard Effort

If you don’t want to burn out easily, you must know how to relax --- even when you’re in the middle of the most physically demanding task. Emergency workers like firemen and rescue volunteers know this. When the occasion doesn’t allow an hour or so off for a cup of coffee or a short nap, you need to be able to relax even while exerting. Muscles can only be pushed to their limits once you know how to alternate between tensing up and cooling down.

To develop skills related to relaxing during hard physical labor, set cues that will tell you when to start relaxing. If you’re a runner, use the beginning of each lap as a signal to slow down and breathe rhythmically. If you’re an office worker rushing through the afternoon commute, visualize your blood pressure and respiration steadily going down every 5 blocks. If you know how to push “pause” as you go about your daily grind, you’d be more than capable of meeting each physically challenging task that comes your way.

Author's Bio: 

Steve G. Jones is a board certified Clinical Hypnotherapist. He is a member of the National Guild of Hypnotists, American Board of Hypnotherapy, president of the American Alliance of Hypnotists, on the board of directors of the Los Angeles chapter of the American Lung Association, and director of the California state registered Steve G. Jones School of Hypnotherapy. In order to keep up with the very latest in research, he regularly attends training conferences. Learn more by visiting: