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Using Imagination and Fantasy

Taking a Moment: Mindful ways to cope during the COVID-19 pandemic

Aron Steward, PhD

Today, I'm going to talk to you about using imagination and fantasy to get through the moment. Sometimes our brain and bodies need to be able to concentrate on something that is joyful and pleasurable, something that we have gratitude for, but that is not in front of us.

Through COVID-19, we're going to see a lot of things that we wish we had not seen, and we're going to have to do a lot of things that we wish we didn't have to do, and that's part of performing well as a team and getting through this. It's part of our resiliency to make it through an obstacle and a challenge.

But in order to do that, sometimes we're going to have to take a break in our own minds to think about something joyful. And, you all have probably heard of the phrase, “Go to your happy place.”

People used to teach kids to do that at the dentist or when getting shots. This is like going to the dentist or getting shots for a couple months. And so we're going to have to make it.

When you think of your happy place, fantasy or imagination experience that you can use when you're going through a hard time at work, I want you to develop it as much as possible when you're not stressed out or frustrated.

So you're going to build your imagination experience, maybe it's a place, a person, an experience, a trip that you've been on, or a hobby that you like to do. You're going to think about and rehearse it in detail, with imagery, sound, taste, touch and smell so that you can conjure it up when you need it, and your brain will be able to do that better if it's detailed.

So put pictures and sounds to it and make it be the thing that you can go to when you don't want to be in the moment that you are in right now, but you still need to perform. So the tip of the day is to create an experience in your mind that you can draw on and bring back to the forefront of your mind when you don't want to be in the moment that you're in right now. And you have to create it when you're calm, relaxed and safe so that you can conjure it up.

Thanks for being with me. Thanks for everything you're doing. I'll see you next time. Bye.

Robert Althoff, MD and Aron Steward , PhD from CVPH Psychiatry offer tips and information about coping during this time of crisis.