It is difficult for people to engage their “playful” imaginations when they are stressed and/or worried, although one might argue that an overactive imagination could lead to more stress. But, the focus is usually not on anything fun. People tend to focus their imaginations and energies on all the things that need to be done and/or those things they have no control. By shifting the focus from the worry and stress to fun and joy can be as simple as closing your eyes and focusing on breathing slowly and deeply, playing upbeat music in the background and visualizing a puppy/kitten playing or a baby/child laughing.
If possible smile and laugh. According to HelpGuide, “Laughter is a powerful antidote to stress, pain, and conflict. Nothing works faster or more dependably to bring your mind and body back into balance than a good laugh. Humor lightens your burdens, inspires hopes, connects you to others, and keeps you grounded, focused, and alert.” Furthermore, “laughter relaxes the whole body. A good, hearty laugh relieves physical tension and stress, leaving your muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes after.”
Now, as easily as your imagination can get the best of us when we imagine the worst case scenarios, we can also imagine the best case scenarios, just as easily. Dr Silvia Hartmann stated, “ANY good imagination or memory, daydream or fantasy will help stop stress, and actively RELIEVE stress, because the body can’t tell the difference between an imagined car crash or a real one…Taking your imagination onto a nice holiday, for example, even for just a few moments, is IMMENSELY stress relieving. Thinking of beautiful things, of pleasant things, of BEST CASE SCENARIOS, is also an outstanding anti-stress device.”
You have the power to imagine the negative aspects of stress away. Imagine being a carefree, happy, fluffy-white cloud squelching the overbearing sun trying to stress you with its pointy sharp rays. You can muffle your worries by imagining the best outcomes of any situation you may be experiencing and you can engage your imagination in happy thoughts like butterfly dancing or children running around and playing.
You have control of your thoughts, imagination and your reactions to most outside forces that happen upon you. Give yourself permission to use your playful (and powerful) imagination to deflate the stress in your life. When it comes to all the things you need to do, consider the following: What is the worst thing that could happen if I put off a few things for an hour or a day? What if I took an hour for myself to relax and recharge before I do anything else? Ask yourself, what are the best possible outcomes and then start believing in them.