NISAD

How our imagination can make us anxious and what you can do about it.

On June 22, 2020
A calm place for when you're feeling anxious

When scary thoughts happen to good imaginations

If you’re feeling particularly anxious about the future, one thing you can be certain of in these uncertain times is that you have a good imagination.

Whether you realise it or not, you’re probably visualising vivid and unpleasant pictures of what might happen: unpleasant fantasies.

If we continuously use our imagination in this way, constant generation of unpleasant images or scenarios – as well as imagining the panic we might feel – can keep us in a state of anxiety.

What’s happening in your imagination is not real. But your body is responding AS IF it’s real.

So, what to do?

Well firstly, you can congratulate yourself for having a fantastic imagination!

Next, you want to give this marvellous resource that you have a different task. Re-deploy it so to speak.

You might imagine…

…the things you’ll enjoy doing when this is over;
…the useful, interesting, enjoyable or productive things that you can do while at home.
…what opportunities you can discover from a change in behaviours or routine.

In quiet moments, you can ask your imagination to take you somewhere pleasant:

It might be a place that you find particularly beautiful and calming – perhaps a memory of somewhere you felt wonderfully calm and peaceful. Or you can create a safe, relaxing place just how you would like to imagine it.

You might remember a time when you felt happy and close to people – whether it’s a memory from a holiday, a special time or a moment when you felt especially close to someone. Choose a memory that makes you feel good.

If you like animals, they can really bring a sense of calm and wellbeing. You might have a fond memory of being with a dog, cat, horse, guinea pig, racoon…
Let your imagination be your guide: ask it to take you to a safe and relaxing place and see what comes to your mind.

Keep practising this so that, as you get accustomed to using your imagination in a positive direction, you can be certain in uncertainty that your imagination can be your friend.

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

Alison Easton

Alison Easton

Director of Clinical and Creative Development at NISAD

BA(Hons) HPD DipCHyp

Title image by Suman Maharjan from Pixabay