Updated: Jan 26
Life is a journey of twists and turns, with extremes that range from tender to tumultuous. One way to help navigate through difficult emotions is to tap into one's imagination.
“The worst use of imagination is anxiety, and the best use of imagination is creativity” (Chopra, 2020). “The fundamental state of being is infinite creativity."
But how do we best utilize our imagination?
Chopra (2019) explains it is helpful "to ask a question--any question--and then go deep into stillness.” Mindfulness, or being fully present in the moment, non-judgmentally, can acutely causes one to focus and be still.
“Creativity allows us to write a new story, new context, new meaning, new expression of those relationships” (Chopra, 2019). Being creative is good for the heart, mind, and soul.
Using the imagination mindfully “allows you to focus, use your passions, and experience feelings of happiness when doing so; to clear your mind of other subjects, display your emotions in a raw, vulnerable way, and sort out your feelings” (Durocher, 2018). Writing can be calming, centering “I can literally put into words how I’m feeling and use those words as a sort of venting and therapy.”
Durocher (2018) describes seven creative outlets:
Journaling - releasing emotions and thoughts can help ground you which will allow you to access logic
Coloring - in particular coloring in books specific to help with anxiety, like mandalas
Art - releases emotion, can find perspective and meaning in the unknown
Music - can serve as a calming agent to the neural activity of the brain
Creative writing - expressing oneself in unique ways with story telling or expression, providing both an outlet and a relief for anxiety
Crafting - healthy artistic and creative outlet that allows release and can result in feeling productive
Dancing - any physical movement can be a release for the anxiety energy; dancing can also be good for the spirit by creating endorphins and expression
In counseling, creative outlets are encouraged frequently. “Creativity is a quality in counseling that should be celebrated, cultivated, and encouraged" (Gladding, 2008). "It is an aspect of counseling that must be emulated, for creativity in counseling makes an impact.” Gladding further explains: “creativity is a major force in human life. It is necessary for survival and for the advancement of civilization…creativity is a necessity.”
Writing has been found to be a helpful way clients process emotions therapeutically, particularly between sessions. I suggest clients write as if no one is reading or watching. I encourage them to let the words and emotions flow and the tears roll, without judgement, which can be a catalyst for catharsis.
If we put the anxiety to work for us it can allow us to harness the energy anxiety produces through the release of adrenalin and cortisol. Then the energy can be channeled into forming words in a journal, a story, poem, letter, all of which can be very therapeutic.
Anxiety lives within all of us. We can teach ourselves to channel the energy of anxiety, process through our worries and fears, and release the emotion and energy in healthy ways. By using imagination and creative outlets, we can put the anxiety energy to work, resulting in feeling more free and less stuck in an emotional state. This also allows us to feel more productive and re-energized.
Creatively, we can begin taking some power back over fear. If we can imagine it and harness it, we can definitely conquer it.
Teresa Jacobson is a Doctor of Behavioral Health and Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor Supervisor who is counseling Ohio adults of all ages and life experiences via secure Telehealth visits. Teresa can be reached by email firstname.lastname@example.org, phone (513) 206-3026, or by visiting www.jacobsoncounseling.org
Chopra, D. (April, 30, 2020). Talks at Goldman Sachs, Sprinklr Publishing.
Retrieved from https://twitter.com/goldmansachs/status/1255980321369096192
Chopra, D. (March 5, 2019). Deepak & Darrah on creativity and imagination. Diving Deep with
Deepak & Darrah. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wYad-EzJffw
Durocher, K. (January 15, 2018). Creative, artistic outlets for anxiety.
Gladding, S. T. (2008). The impact of creativity in counseling. Journal of Creativity in Mental
Health, 3(2). 97-104. Retrieved from