Psychologist Charlie Unwin explores how visualisation works and how you can use it to become a more positive and confident rider.

Visualisation is a mental process that enables us to feel more prepared and confident towards specific activities or life events.

The idea is to run through experiences in your mind and basically practise your emotions, which will help you to deal with the real life situation much better.

This is a skill I use extensively with athletes preparing for high-pressure performances, surgeons preparing for complex operations, special forces operatives about to conduct a dangerous mission — really anyone who wants to increase the quality of what they do and the confidence with which they do it.

These are extreme examples, but the reason we should all take time to practise visualisation is that it can help us to perform everyday activities with more confidence, more focus, more positivity, more patience and more connection.

How to visualise

  1. Start by focusing on your breathing, Breathe deeply and rhythmically. Count in for five and out for five and, if your mind wanders, gently bring it back to your breath. Do this for two minutes before moving on to the next step. If you struggle to quieten your mind, there are apps that can help, such as Calm.
  2. On every exhale, focus on relaxing your body. Start with your head and face, and work your way down to your toes, releasing any tension as you breathe out. Repeat this until your mind is calm and still.
  3. Visualise your upcoming day, living the key activities in your mind one at a time. Imagine this as accurately as you can, as if you were there doing it. Notice any fluctuations in heart rate and mood while you imagine it, and meet them with a deep breath and relaxation. If you need to, go back over something and do it again until you do it the way you want to do it. Imagine living through each key part of your day relaxed, calm, positive and confident.

Trust me when I say that 15 minutes doing this can have a dramatic effect on how your day turns out. The more you practise, the better you get, so take time out to do this at the beginning of every day.

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