What’s On YOUR Mental Plate
Diet is a popular topic no matter what age we are. We are consistently being reminded to be mindful of what we and our families eat. It’s important and we know it!
They say “You are what you eat.”
But you are really what you THINK.
Do you ever feel run down? Like you have no time for yourself, let alone for others? So what is on your mental plate? Are you mindful of the activities that fill, challenge, reward, or deplete your brain on a daily and weekly basis? How much work is too much work? How little play is too little play? What are you doing to positively feed your brain as well as your body? We are all individuals, with individual minds and bodies that require individual diets. As adults it is easy to say “I’m just too busy…..”, but what this can means is “I am choosing to focus my time and energy elsewhere”. Do you know exactly where, and how much time you are spending your energy? An activity that can help with increasing this level of self-awareness is actually physically tracking where and how you spend your time each day. Portioning out your mental plate. ALL of it! Move over leafy greens……time to chew on some mental game changers.
Taking a simple planner jot down the activities during your day and the amount of time they take. Visually seeing openings, or fluff (40 minutes scrolling social media), can help you achieve that Aha! Moment where you can begin to realize it is possible to include valuable and INTENTIONAL time for yourself! You do have time to do one that brings you JOY. Maybe you can discover an area that is taking up LOTS of time, and brainstorm strategies to decrease it. Take that opening that you can now SEE in your calendar (there you are 15 extra minutes!) and schedule that goal you have had on your mind! It can be as simple as making a tea, and visualizing how to organize a section of your home or life in order to reduce stress. Maybe it’s a five-minute journal activity or a 10-minute workout. Throughout the day we need time to let our brains experience emotional learning through those things that make us feel good! Your time is your most valuable asset, and you can make choices, through self-awareness exercises, to make the most of it!
I teach this concept of time awareness and “giving back to your brain” to my students and clients, from activities I have learned in Social Thinking©. I want them to know they can choose to reward themselves with time, rather than simply passing it. I have used a wall clock and different colored dry erase markers to teach this skill. The students portion out the time they think it will take to complete activities, the time they need for “brain breaks”, and the time they would want to themselves using the different colored markers. You can also purchase a Time Timer for yourself or child, and set the timer to the amount decided to complete the activity, or for a break. These visuals help my students and clients see how much of their time is spent in different areas. When they visually see what they need to get done, and set a time goal, they are typically excited to find out they have more time for themselves at the end of a session! A few skill sets are strengthened: intrinsic motivation, self-awareness, executive functioning and, organizational skills!