Dreams are powerful reflections of our deepest desires. As children, we create our own magical fairy tales: we travel to Mars and start a village, we fall in love with The One and live happily ever after, or we move to a tropical island where we drink out of coconuts every day. With each passing year, however, time seems to caveat our childhood fantasies. We strain our dreams through the sieve of reality, repeatedly, until they are safe and palatable.

When will we stop the self-sabotage? Dreams are powerful because of their intangibility. They are limitless landscapes where anything is possible. During this pandemic, it can be difficult to visualize a life outside of society’s digital realm. Overrun Zoom calls have deadened our creativity and left us toggling the Touch Up feature for fun. All is not lost, however. We have vision boards to preserve a glimpse of our dreams as we work to attain them.

Vision boards are a form of art therapy. These boards utilize drawings, paintings, and other forms of artwork to tap into an individual’s deepest desires and feelings. They are a venue where users can identify their priorities and collage their ideas in tactile form.

When completed and framed, vision boards become a source of daily encouragement. Positive reinforcement is proven to have positive neuropsychological effects— it boosts mood, promotes emotional health, and fights depression. Even better, vision boards are a powerful visualization technique accessible to anyone.

Ready to make one?

Supplies: poster board, magazines, photos, printed pictures, markers, and glue. Feel free to add more materials! (ribbon, glitter, stickers, etc.)

Step 1: Brainstorm— write down your dreams and goals. What do you want your life to look like? Think family, relationships, hobbies, health, finances, or places you’d like to go.

Step 2: Think of what motivates you. Find words and pictures that fit your goals and encourage you to reach them. When you look at a certain picture, what kind of thoughts does it invite? What kind of feelings does it evoke?

Step 3: Map out your board. Organize it in a way that’s visually appealing to you. Add color! Texture! Anything that’ll enhance your poster board so that it becomes a representation of how you want to feel.

Step 4: Glue everything down. It’s okay to have some blank space— you can add or remove materials over time.

Rip a few pages out of your favorite Men’s Health magazine. Print out a Pinterest board with pictures of Anthropologie-inspired home décor and color-coordinated spices. Write down motivational quotes you have screenshotted on your camera roll. Arrange your photos however you like and place your finished product somewhere you walk past every day. Here is what my vision board looks like:

Congrats! You’re done. The collection of images in front of you not only represents what you wish to achieve, but it defines who you are. Seeing is being, after all. Oprah, Steve Harvey, Katy Perry, and countless others have used dream boards to visualize and create their success. Have fun!

Guest Blogger: Celine Jeun, MHA Intern

Celine is a recent graduate of Phillips Exeter Academy who is on a gap year. She is an intern at MHA and a trained crisis worker at ContactLifeline. She aims to reduce the stigma around depression, addiction, and other mental illnesses. You can find her baking an olive oil cake, going on a sunset run, cuddling her two cats, or listening to Lorde.