IMPROVE the Moment

These skills are helpful when overwhelmed or when a difficult situation may be long-lasting. With IMPROVE the moment we can replace immediate negative events with more positive ones, improving the quality of the present moment.


Use imagery to imagine a relax- ing scene. Imagine your “happy place.” This can be someplace you’ve visited or a place you’ve read about in books or magazines. It can be someplace real or fictional. The goal is to imagine a place where you feel protected and calm. Imagine that the next few days, weeks, and months could turn out fine, without any crisis. Imagine coping well in this space.


 Find the lesson or meaning in the pain. No matter how bad the situation is, ask yourself, “What is the meaning of this situation?” “How am I going to grow from this situation?” “What am I going to learn from this situation?” What does this crisis tell you about what’s important to you? In what way does this crisis remind you of your most important values? 


Get in touch with your own wise mind for guidance and strength to get through the crisis. Perhaps there’s a mantra or scripture that you repeat to yourself to feel grounded. Whether religious or not, you can also repeat a lyric or poem to ground yourself in the present moment, to help you connect with something greater than yourself.


With relaxation, we aim to make whatever difficult situation we’re in less painful. Take a few minutes to practice paced breathing, ensuring that your exhalation is longer than your inhalation. You can also take a calming shower or bath, drink your favorite tea, cozy up with a book, or practice mindful stretching.

One thing in the moment

Our goal is to focus all our attention on just one thing in the moment, rather than mindlessly reacting to a crisis. Pour your attention into whatever activity you’re currently engaged in. If you’re cleaning your room, focus on nothing but that activity, noticing what it feels like to pick up clothes off the floor or make your bed, fold by fold. If your mind wanders, you can say to yourself, “I am only doing this one thing right now.” Whatever the activity is, focus your full attention on that.


Give yourself a brief vacation. A vacation can be something short or long. You may take the day off work and go to the park or see a movie. Or you may crawl into bed for the next twenty minutes and read a book. You want to ensure that whatever you do isn’t so time-consuming that it gets in the way of important responsibilities.


Be a cheerleader to yourself or a compassionate coach. Remind yourself, “This will pass,” “It’s going to be okay,” “You have gotten through hard things,” and “You can do this!”