How to use your Imagination resource

by Jo Flack | 30 Apr 2020

Jo Flack, Trainer of The Mental Health Toolkit by Suffolk Mind, explains how to use your imagination resource to focus away from problems and towards solutions.

Imagination is a powerful resource, but who would have imagined, for instance, that 2020 would bring a global pandemic?

And, with the pandemic over, many of us face new and difficult challenges day to day.

In challenging circumstances, we may find that our imaginations run riot and conjure up all kinds of ‘what if…?’ scenarios.

I, for one, have a very vivid imagination and have found my ‘what if…?’ imaginings lead to all kinds of unpleasant outcomes. We can all too easily misuse our imagination to catastrophise and get ourselves stuck on the ‘worry circuit’, especially when we are feeling uncertain. This turning of our imagination inwards, towards our emotional difficulties, is not helpful in keeping us mentally well.

Instead, we need to try to harness the power of our imagination to help us focus away from problems and towards solutions, and to use this great resource of ours to our advantage.

Our imagination can help us solve problems, be creative, and consider possible courses of action. In fact, we all constantly use our imagination to our advantage in everyday life: for instance, whenever we plan an activity, describe a situation or recall a memory.

So, we all have the potential to use our imagination productively, rather than using it to get stuck in unhelpful mental loops. What, then, can we do to promote the healthy use of our imaginations?

  1. Focus attention away from news or media posts that sensationalise and ramp up worry
  2. If you find yourself on the worry circuit, do what you can to calm yourself down, e.g. practise a breathing technique such as 7/11 breathing, so you can think more clearly and flexibly and consider a different, more positive, point of view
  3. Envisage a positive outcome by imagining all the things you want to do when the challenging situation is over
  4. Use your imagination to create. Write, colour or draw, take photos, get imaginative in the kitchen, or make a gift for a loved one
  5. Take notice of good things to help spark your imagination
  6. Use your imagination to quieten your mind, maybe by creating your own peaceful, soothing place in your mind’s eye that you can visit whenever you need to

Updated January 2024

by Jo Flack
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