The set of skills known as improve the moment are about doing something with a crisis to lessen how bad it is.
Improve is an acronym that stands for seven additional skills.
Imagery refers to using imagery to create a more relaxing scene, your own personal image of a happy place that you can go to in your mind when you're feeling stressed. You can play around with this and develop this image more fully over time, it could be based on a real place that you know, or it could be imaginary, as long as it's a scene in which you feel protected and calm. The other way in which you can use imagery is to actually imagine things going well. And imagine coping well imagine how the next couple weeks and months could turn out in a way that is fine and calm and without crisis.
A final way in which you can use imagery is to imagine stress leaving your body, for example, you can imagine stress draining out of you like water out of a pipe.
Meaning refers to the skill in which you are essentially saying to yourself, if I'm going to go through this, at least I'll get something out of it. Meaning is a form of making lemonade out of lemons. What can I get out of this experience, even though it feels terrible right now, the famous quote, whatever doesn't kill me makes me stronger is actually an example of this. It's saying that there's something that I can get out of this crisis. And I'm going to find that meaning. For example, you could say this crisis is important, because it's helping me recognize the things that are most important to me, the people that are most important to me the values that are most important to me.
The third skill is prayer. This skill involves opening your heart to a supreme being or to a greater wisdom, and asking for strength to get through this difficult time. Prayer may be a vital part of your life already. For others who are religious, but don't pray, or others who don't identify as religious, you can still use this skill because you can pray to many things. It doesn't have to be to God, it could be to your own sense of wisdom, taking a minute to go inside yourself and praying for strength and to get through this crisis.
The fourth skill is relaxation. The focus here is to relax in this moment as a way of making this moment less painful, taking a couple of minutes to just sit and breathe deeply, making sure that your exhalation is longer than your inhalation. It's the exhalation that leads to the psychophysiological response of relaxation. Other things that you can do for relaxation, or to take a calming bath or shower, to sit and drink tea or coffee with a book and a comfy chair, yoga stretching, we're taking a five minute timeout from anything else you're doing to do something calming and peaceful.
The fifth skill is one thing at a time. When we're in a crisis, when we're experiencing a high degree of stress, our minds are usually in 1000 places at once. One thing at a time is about putting your full attention into just one thing that you're doing right in this moment. This could be anything, this could be I'm washing the dishes, and I'm only washing the dishes right? In this moment. I am walking from my car to work or to home and I am only walking. That is the only thing that I'm doing. I am in conversation with someone. And that's all I'm doing mindfully saying for the next five minutes, I'm going to do this one activity. And whatever that activity is, you're going to throw your full attention into that.
This sixth skill is vacation. Vacation is giving yourself a mental and physical break. It's getting into bed and pulling the covers up over your head for 20 minutes. for vacation to be skillful, you need to do it in a way that doesn't hurt you or harm you in some long term way. So you're not doing a vacation when you should be at something important. You're saying to yourself, I'm going to do this in a time limited way and just let myself zone out. I'm going to look at the silliest stuff I can find online, I'm going to sit on the couch and eat chips for 20 minutes. This is what I'm going to do. And then when the timer goes off, my vacation is done. And I'm going back to work. It's really just taking a breather.
The last improve the moment skill is encouragement. Encouragement is essentially cheerleading yourself. It's repeating over and over things that you would probably say to someone else, but instead saying it to yourself. Examples of encouragement are I can stand this, I can do this. I can cope with this. This won't last forever. This too shall pass. It's okay to feel this.
Encouraging yourself may not come naturally to you. In which case you might ask yourself What would I say to a friend and then apply it to yourself. It's learning the fine art of talking to yourself as though you're talking to someone else.
So again, the seven improve skills are emitted Three, meaning prayer, relaxation. One thing in the moment, vacation and encouragement.
These are the skills for making the difficult moment that you're in better in some way.