Why Dress Rehearsals are Important for Wellbeing & Health
Would a student take an exam without studying and expect to ace it? Would an opera singer stand on a stage without learning the song? Would a professional footballer play games but never train?
In every walk of life, practice is essential to success. It’s through practice that we learn the skill set to complete the task given to us.
By trying something different, new natural pathways are formed, fired and wired together and through repetition, those connections become stronger and stronger making the tasks easier to complete as close to perfection as you can muster and almost completed autonomously. Take the best professional footballer in the team, they’re the ones who are first to the training pitch and last to leave because they know that it’s through practice and repetition that they have come so far and not a god-given gift.
It is no different with habits, ending bad ones and forming new healthier ones. Practice and repetition are essential until such time that the change has occurred, and the habits become easy and almost autonomous.
Did you know that practice does not have to be physical to hardwire the connections in the brain. Imagining the practice is almost just as good. A study took two groups, one group had to imagine training their muscles by lifting weights, imagining the contractions and the effort on the muscle and the other group did nothing. Those that engaged in the mental strength exercises gained twice the strength as those that did nothing. Studies have also shown how the imagination of exercise stops muscle wastage in people with broken, plastered, limbs.
Formula one drivers know that imagination is almost as good as the real thing, they rehearse the race in their mind to the finest details; the speed, the braking zones, the racing line they take, the gear changes etc etc.
And we can apply imagination when we’re trying to break bad habits and form new ones. For example, imagining our new routine; getting up when the alarm sounds, doing our stretches, drinking a glass of water, putting our running kit on, and heading straight out the door. The same can be applied to breaking bad habits, the kids are screaming, you’re making dinner and you would have reached for the wine but you stop yourself in the moment and take a big deep breath and step back from the situation and give yourself clarity and a moment to ask yourself whether you really need the wine.
Even meditation is rehearsal. Mindfulness during the day is training us to stay in the present reality and move away from past and future thoughts that are unproductive. The more we rehearse, the stronger the connection in the brain and it doesn’t need to be physical.
I would encourage anyone trying to make health changes in their life to use mental rehearsal as a valuable tool to form new ways. Because change itself requires more effort than no change at all, helping to hardwire the new neural pathways quicker with rehearsal can be an extremely valuable tool.
Don’t stand on stage, with the world watching, without practicing lots before 😉
Matt Jordan – the Energy Coach