The answer is simple, no and yes. No - visualisation by itself does not work. If it did all of us would have the job, house, and life that we dreamed of. (Sorry to those of you who read the book The Secret and believed it was true.)
Yes, research tells us that if you use as many of your senses as possible when seeking a goal, you have a higher chance of success. The entire answer centres on the mind and body working together, your psychology and physiology.
And, this is also the quickest way for your wellness to deteriorate or to repair yourself when you are in the mire. Here's how it works.
When we worry about something, guilt and regret being the most intense things to worry about, our brain starts to focus on nothing else. We tend to lose sight of reality, everything becomes exaggerated, and we just want to cuddle up on the couch while we try and figure things out. The last thing that we want to do is exercise, the one thing that can actually help us in this time of worrying.
As our brain focuses more and more on what we are worrying about, we curl into a ball, we go into the foetal position. This is caused by your bodies fight or flight response. Don't worry, (as if you need more things to worry about) you aren't becoming a baby, you are simply protecting your vital organs - the heart and lungs.
Exercise alone won't help you if you are too deep in the mire, but it can help if you exercise early enough. Research tells us that exercise has extraordinary benefits for the mind and body. (Maybe I will post on this topic tomorrow).
The other thing that you need to do along with exercise is to visualise. Use your brain to focus on the future without worry, to see yourself being as happy as you once were, to distract yourself from worrying. Importantly, to take the focus away from guilt and regret.
Eastern culture has known this since forever (slight exaggeration), they know that the mind and body are inextricably linked. They know that visualisation by itself doesn't work, you actually need to do something.
Bottom line, when you are in the depths of guilt and regret; forget what you have done, get off the couch, do something physical like go for a walk, think (visualise) yourself in a better place, and move forward.
It works, trust me on this. If it can work for me it can work for anyone because I was the biggest sceptic on this ‘stuff’.