How can we improve our mental strength?
Imagination is a wonderful and powerful thing.
We all use our imaginations every day, even though you might not think you are an imaginative or creative person.
The thing is that many of us spend loads of time imagining all sorts of things that we DON’T want to experience, or that we are NOT looking forward to, rather than visualising or imagining the things we actually want to see happen.
We might imagine the amount of work that will be piled up on our desk after we return from a holiday or long weekend, or the meeting we have booked for tomorrow going 'wrong' in a number of ways. We are really good at rehearsing negative future events in our minds, which is all part of our built in negativity bias which you may have already heard us talk about thanks to Dr. Rick Hanson.
The challenge for many of us is to find a way to rehearse future events in our minds in the way we actually would love to experience them, or to find ways to use our imaginations to shake loose our negativity or stress.
We might daydream of a destination we would love to visit or an experience we would love to have, or we can look forward to enjoying the food we are about to taste, or we can imagine ourselves thinner or healthier or younger or wiser, but we get a bit scared to imagine things going too well, like somehow by doing that we’ll 'jinx' it somehow.
So how do we use our imaginations to help us achieve what we want AND reduce stress in our lives or improve our mental strength?
One way is to build our skills so we can learn to visualise or mentally 'rehearse' a future event in our mind in detail in the exact way we would like to experience it, (which is really effective when preparing for an interview or important presentation, or a special date, party or event), AND there are daily quick visualisations that can really help you to keep looking after you.
These short sharp visualisations can help you manage your stress and maintain your balance and mental strength, and they could become little rituals that you can use to help you navigate the ups and downs we all experience.
Here are some ideas for quick visualisations that could help you at home or at work or anytime really:
Imagine you have wings of steel.
For those of us well over 40, you may remember the cartoon Batfink. Like his classic line, ‘Your Bullets can not harm me, my wings are like a shield of steel,’ you could choose to imagine that you have a protective shield around you and that you choose who and what you let in - like love, positive words and supportive people; and what you choose to keep out - like negativity or the pressures of other people’s priorities.
2. Wash away the stress of the day.
As you step under the shower at the end of a big day, focus on how the water hits your body and how it feels on your skin. As the water cascades off you, imagine all your troubles and all the stress of the day is flowing from you and going down the drain and out of your life. You are being cleansed of negativity and can re-energise and recharge and renew.
3. Pack up your troubles in your old kit-bag.
We created this fantastic visualisation together with a group of wonderful Community workers in rural New South Wales at our series of ‘It’s All About ME!’ workshops a few years ago. At the end of a tough day of serving your community or y