We as adults understand how important it is for children to use their imagination. Did you know, though, that adults can feel better and manage their emotions by using their imagination and doing make-believe play? Trauma therapists have been using fantasy as a way to help heal psychological wounds.
One amazing scientific fact is that the brain is unable to tell the difference between reality and fantasy. Studies have shown that if I imagine I am running, my brain reacts as if I am actually running. This is why fantasy and imagination are great tools to help you feel better.
There are a few ways that your imagination can help you feel better:
- use your imagination to calm down: if you become upset, try to imagine a serene comfortable place and then breathe deeply. Feel your body relax. You can add different sensations to help your fantasy seem more realistic, such as a warm breeze on your skin or the smell of salty air if you are imagining the beach.
- Release anger by imagining yourself doing what you want to to the person that made you angry: by nature, most people are loving and compassionate. When you become angry, though, your body takes on a biological agenda, to attack as a way to protect yourself. To help release this emotional energy, imagine yourself doing what your anger wants you to do.
- Imagine the perfect parent to give you the kind of love you need: when you find yourself upset, try to imagine yourself being comforted by a nurturing figure. The person you choose in your mind can be real, fictional, or even God. Use whoever or whatever feels most comfortable to you. The best thing about using fantasy is that you do not have to be constrained by your logic. Just do what you need at the time. Imagine how this person’s love feels. If you enjoy hugging, your imagination can help you feel like you are actually being hugged. Whatever you need, that is what you should imagine.
You need to allow yourself the permission to use your imagination however it serves you best. And feel free to experiment. Whatever imaginative play you think helps you the most, that’s what you need to do. If you don’t get relief from your imaginings, just keep testing different things and playing with it. Fantasy and imagination helps to keep us creative and keep our brains in shape. It also helps us to literally feel better.