Preparing to enter prison is really important so I’ve devoted quite a bit of time to
it. One of my biggest concerns, as I’m sure it is for most people, is how I’ll cope
with all the emotions and negative thoughts. Recently I learned of an acronym
that I’m adding to my mental health toolbox – IMPROVE. When feeling
consumed with negative thoughts and stressful feelings about being in an
environment that I can’t change, focusing on IMPROVE can help.
Imagery: Imagine myself dealing with a problem or situation in a way that creates
the outcome I want. Imagining what I want can be empowering. I’m a big believer
in manifestation and need to remain focused on what I want my life to look like
versus what it looks like in that moment.
Meaning: Finding meaning in the situation has become a way of life over these
past few years. What can I learn from this experience?
Prayer: Prayer can come in many forms. Personally, I pray to God. I’m often
praying for strength and guidance to tolerate the situation. As I’ve done a lot of
the past few years, I practice handing the heavy load to God. It’s been extremely
Relaxation: Through deep breathing and yoga I hope to reduce the immediate
tension I feel.
One thing in the moment: Finding one thing to focus my attention on has proven
helpful. Something that I can submerse myself in such as reading an inspiring
book or journaling. Rather than letting my mind wander down the road of regret
that leads me to feeling absolutely distraught, I need to find a healthy distraction,
a way to channel my energy elsewhere.
Vacation: Since I can’t go anywhere, much less a vacation, I plan to envision
somewhere I’d like to be. Watching the waves crash upon the shore, smelling
salty ocean water in the air, hearing waves crashing, feeling the sand under my
feet –a mental vacation is the best I can do.
Encourage: Confinement will feel immensely lonely. I’ll be missing hugs that
nurture my soul, and my friends and family who encourage me to keep moving
forward with hope. With that said, I’ll reference a few special mantras that can
hopefully provide some self-encouragement. An example, “I got this.”