Imagination can cause or increase anxiety—the feeling of worry, unease, or nervousness in anticipation of future events. Fortunately, it can also be utilized in calming negative thought patterns and reclaiming inner peace.
A study spearheaded by Marianne Cumella Reddan and her colleagues from the University of Colorado Boulder Department of Psychology and Neuroscience discovered that deliberate imagination is equally effective as reality to stimulate, regulate and inhibit the brain.
On the other hand, Integrative and Holistic Medicine physician Chris Gilbert, M.D., Ph.D., who specializes in the combination of Western and Eastern Medicine and is known for treating chronic illnesses, anxiety, and depression through pioneering methods, has noted down creative techniques that can be used by both adults and children in lowering their anxieties.
Together, the Benilde Well-Being Center (BWC) of the De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde, through the observations of Reddan and finding Dr. Gilbert, have collectively provided reminders and released guidelines on how to use the imagination for a healthier and happier life:
1. Start with the “balloon breath” and then imagine a beautiful place
Imagine a balloon inside your abdomen a couple of inches below your belly button. Breathe in slowly to the count of three, the balloon expands. Breathe out slowly and the balloon deflates. Within three to ten breaths, you will likely find yourself calmer.
Once relaxed, visualize a beautiful place that you would love to be in. It may be somewhere you have been in the past or a spot you wish to visit. What sounds can you hear? What can you smell? Bask in this scene and you will be amazed by how fast you calm down.
2. Visualize a protective animal, person, or wizard
You may envision more than one. What do they look like? What gifts do they offer to help you with your challenges?
3. Imagine a color
Think of a color that you love and de-stresses you. Now envisage that you are surrounded by it. Breathe in and out deeply while immersing in it.
4. Consider body movement
What is that dance or movement that relaxes you? Imagine and explore the different motions and experience which one works best to decrease your anxiety.
5. Tap into music
Play the protective song or tempo that you love. Use your voice or any accessible musical instrument to explore the different rhythms.
6. Try drawing or painting
Draw that beautiful place you would love to be in. Include the imaginary person or fantastic animals and wizards who wish to protect you. Paint it with the colors that you love. If unable to draw, you may utilize colors to symbolize them.
7. Envision your fantasy scenario
If anything were possible, what would you wish to happen? Imagine the details of your fantasy scenario as if it were happening right now. Take the time to bathe in it. Visualizing makes the impossible possible in your brain and it will help reclaim your peace.