Why You Should Improvise More and Plan Less

How do you feel when hearing the word “improvisation”?

For example, if you discover that you have an unannounced work or school presentation and you don’t have time to prepare, what would you do? Some people would get nervous and insecure in this situation, they would assume that lack of preplanned script would lead to failure.

Furthermore, that feeling is worsened if you are expected to speak in a foreign language – as you may be self conscious about your pronunciation or vocabulary.  How can you possibly improvise? It just sounds so overwhelming to be put on the spot!

Here are five reasons why you should improvise more and plan less:

It Makes You More Positive

There is a technique called the “Yes, And” or “Principle of Acceptance”, mentioned for the first time by acting teacher Phil Johnson, in his book called Improv in the 1970s. It consists of naming things in a certain category, and the other players need to agree regardless of whether the statement makes factual sense.

When applying this improvisation approach, you tend to increase your positivity ability. You redirect your fear of the unknown and take risks while using your intellectual and emotional capacity to come up with something creative. Furthermore, the supportive group response removes fear of judgment and encourages you to contribute more.  

Boosts Your Creativity Thinking

It is impossible to talk about improvisation without mentioning creative thinking. When you improvise, you tell a story at the same time as you think it.  This engages your imagination, emotions, and actions to find a solution for a problem. According to a study from April 21, 2020, when improvising, people enhance their ability to think of more ways to solve problems, producing multiple solutions. This helps to break patterns of behaviours and diversify the thinking.

Raises Your Self-Esteem

You didn’t read wrong. The same study mentioned above shows that improvisation can raise your self-esteem. Successfully thinking on your feet leads to feelings of confidence, and reduces fear of making mistakes. Your focus changes from self-consciousness about being right or wrong to contributing to group interests. This results in a trusting environment and enhanced social interactions. You are able to improve your well-being, knowing that you are in an encouraging and trusting environment, and have an important role in providing solutions for a specific problem.

Increases Your Listening Skills

Improvisation can also improve your listening skills. Going back to the “Yes, And” rule, improv requires you to pay attention to details others are sharing to come up with related ideas. It leads to stronger active listening skills.  Despite the initial discomfort and hesitation, you feel motivated to learn, which incentivizes you to listen more and feel socially rewarded.

And It Helps You Manage Anxiety

If you struggle with any anxiety disorder, it might be surprising to learn that improvisation can help with management. It encourages you to start being brave and face situations you would normally avoid. For example, if you have a generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), social anxiety disorder (SAD), or other anxiety disorders, you tend to reward yourself with avoidance, fearing uncertainty. What happens when you practice improvisation is that you start dealing with a certain level of exposure, because you have fun with the experience. The result of this practice is that you become more comfortable with taking risks through creative thinking and get positive outcomes. It is not an easy process, but with the right preparation, it can help you approach your anxiety from a different perspective.

Now that you know that improvisation has many benefits, you can start applying this method to more aspects of your life. For example, you can improvise while cooking, playing a game, giving a presentation, meeting new people, and so on. Use your creativity and apply improv techniques whenever you want. You will feel good about yourself and improve your mental health.

If you feel the need to talk to someone about your mental health, PsyMood is here for you. Our mental health specialists can speak your language and understand your culture. Sign up today to speak with a specialist. We offer sessions at any time, anyplace!

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