- Gratitude Journal
- Bullet Journal
- Doodling Journal
- Habit Tracker
- Wellness and Mood Tracker
- Brush Lettering or Calligraphy Journal
- Exercise Log
- Medication Log
- Food Log
- Weight Loss or Gain Journal
- Gift Log
- Nature Journal
- Inspirational Quotes
- Lists of 100
- Dream Diary
- Wedding or Event Planner
- Vision Journal
- Health Log
- Gardening Journal
- Hobby Journal
- Memory Book
- Morning Intentions
- Spirituality Journal
- Books To Read/Movies to Watch/ TV shows
- New Restaurants to Try
- Recipe Book
- Blog Log
- Expense Tracker
- Vacation Vision Board
- Travel Journal
- Poetry Journal
- Short Story Journal
- Bucket List
- Unsent Letters
- Brainstorming Journal--Move your pen freely, go for as many ideas as you can.
- "What did I learn today?" or "What am I curious to learn tomorrow?"
- Things You Want to Excel At
- Relationship Journal--family, friends, lovers, co-workers, neighbors, etc.
- Biggest Life Successes
- Goals or Dreams You Want to Achieve
- New Foods or Recipes You Want to Try
- Adventures You Would Like To Have
- Your Favorite Playlist
- Favorite Plays or Musicals
- Handwriting Practice
- Ideas Notebook
- Letters to Your Loved Ones
- Wardrobe Book
- Makeup or Hair Products Tracker List
- Digital Media Content Keeper
- Family History Information
- Pet Book or Keeper
- Local Places To Visit
- Romantic ideas
- Podcasts To Enjoy
- Passwords Notebook--keep this one safe!
- Songbook or Lyric book
I am certain that, like me, you probably have a journal or two or ten lying around your place with pristine spines and pages. You probably bought the notebook with great intentions or perhaps it was gifted to you by a friend or family member. As the shelter-in-place continues and the weather gets colder, grab that journal, some colorful pens and a hot cup of cocoa. Hopefully, one or more of these ideas might tickle your fancy and promote your creativity!
Here we are six months into the shelter-in-place due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are some fun and stimulating ways to get those mental gears moving during the Fall of 2020.
1. Study a new language
Now is an excellent time to focus your attention on learning a new language. With today's technology, learning a new language is easier than ever! There are several free apps, like Duolingo and Babbel, that help you to learn a new language. All you need to do is select the app, download it, select the language you are most interested in learning, and dedicate some time each day to learning it.
2. Start a new workout routine
Believe it or not, a great daily workout can help stimulate the mind. Not only will you keep your brain active, but you will keep your body healthy and moving while sheltering at home. Yoga, sprints, learning new dance moves, walking, biking, kayaking, tennis are all great options. Make it fun!
3. Make some tea or hot chocolate
and work on a puzzle
Whether you prefer a rousing game of Sudoku or you are a master chess player, playing games helps to keep your mind stimulated and active. Doing different puzzles will encourage you to use your brain in new ways.
4. Get outside
As we all know, fresh air and communing in nature is healthy for our minds, bodies, and souls. Go for a nature walk and photograph interesting plants, explore a new nearby trail, do some gardening, or plant some new flowers or vegetables.
5. Give yourself permission to relax
While this may not seem like a way to stimulate your mind, rest is essential to mental stimulation and creativity. Take a soothing bath, an afternoon nap, meditate for 10-15 minutes, or listen to relaxing acoustic music and find your mind and body rejuvenated.
Good time management isn't just about choosing the right app. Managing our time wisely requires replacing some of our behaviors with healthier habits and routines. Here are 10 strategies to help you to be more productive and use your time well.
1. Learn How to and When To Say "NO"
Saying "no" when we are used to saying "yes" to everything is uncomfortable at first, but it gets easier the more we do it. When asked if you can do something, practice saying "Let me take a look at my schedule and see if that is something I have time for." When we are assigned more than we know we can handle, find out the new assignment is a priority. Your boss may decide to delegate the assignment to someone else once it is clear that you already have enough on your plate. Impulsive responses get people into a lot of trouble, so pause, take a breath, and ask for time to consider the request.
2. Use the two-minute rule: If the task takes two minuter or less to complete, stop and do it now.
Telling ourselves that we will do it later is a fib we often believe. All those things we say we will do later, which don't get done, take up too much "bandwidth" in our brains. Doing a simple task right away like capturing and labeling a new contact on our phone, saves a lot of time later when we have forgotten.
3. Limit and set clear boundaries for checking Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, email, and newsfeeds.
Restricting social media to a lunchtime activity or the commute home from work is a good rule of thumb, assuming you are not driving. To avoid being inadvertently distracted, move any app with a notification icon off your home screen. Be brutal and unsubscribe to emails, newsletters, and organizations that are not necessary and that wind up wasting your time.
4. Check your calendar and "to do list" morning, noon, and night.
Keep your planning simple. Ask yourself what you want to get done by lunch. After lunch, re-assess and decide what you want to accomplish before you finish work for the day. When you get home, decide what you want to do for the evening. Simple is best and less is more are good rules to apply to time management and organization.
5. Double the time you think it will take to complete an organizational project.
Many of us are poor at estimating how long things will take and almost all of us are poor at estimating the time needed for organizational projects. this is because organizing requires a lot of decision-making, and most of us complicate simple questions such as "Keep or toss it?" Having to stop in the middle of an organization project because we ran out of time is not a pretty sight, as most of what we are organizing is scattered all over the place. Make sure you have plenty of time to finish what you have started by doubling your estimate for completion.
6. Use a timer to stop what you are working on.
If hyperfocus or losing track of time leads to missed appointments or arriving late, use a timer to stop what you are working on.
7. Establish a morning and an evening routine, and stick to them.
When those two routines are consistent, other routines can be built around them. Deciding what not to do each morning and night is as important as deciding what the routine will consist of. Getting a good night's sleep and starting the day on time are necessary and healthy steps for better time management. Be patient and persistent on establishing consistency with getting up and going to bed on time.
8. Learn how and when to delegate.
Do not fall into the trap of "If I want it done right, I'll have to do it myself," or "I need to do it because it will take me longer to show someone else how to do it." We have all heard these expressions, either spoken by ourselves or others. Be patient and take the time to mentor others. It can save you a lot of time in the long run. Don't just delegate down; delegate up by asking for help when you need it. If you are assigned something at work that you have never done before, time can be wasted trying to figure out how to proceed. Ask for more detailed instructions when to find pertinent information about the task, or an example you can use as a template. "Could you please walk me through the process?" is an appropriate question to ask.
9. Beware of multitasking, which can save time only if the tasks are simple and familiar.
If the tasks are complex and unfamiliar, it is more time-efficient to do them one at a time. Helping your child with addition problems while cooking dinner you have made a hundred times is fine, but if you are trying out a new recipe and helping your teenager with calculus, chances are, you will burn dinner and your teen won't do well on the concept or quiz.
10. If you are in the middle of something, do not allow interruptions.
Politely say, "Just a moment. I'm right in the middle of something," and continue with what you are doing until you are at a good stopping point and can re-direct your focus. Sometimes a hand signal works well. Constant interruptions ruin our efficiency, so even if you have an open-door policy, do not hesitate to put a "Do Not Disturb" sign on your door when you have a project that requires your sustained attention. It is difficult for us to minimize our internal distractions, so any boundaries we can set up to minimize external distractions helps us to become more time-efficient.
Here are some articles to empower parents who are raising children with autism.
Sleep is crucial for memory consolidation, mood regulation, and general well-being. In children, sleep is key for developing healthy cognitive, behavioral and physical functioning.
But up to 30% of children ages two to five and 15% of school-aged children have trouble falling asleep or sleeping through the night (National Sleep Foundation, 2004). And fewer than 33% of teenagers are getting enough sleep (CDC, 2018).
The ideal amount of sleep for healthy functioning differs from one person to the next. But research shows that maintaining a regular sleep-wake schedule is a part of good sleep hygiene, regardless of age. Everything from light exposure to mealtimes can influence circadian rhythms and the release of hormones such as melatonin, and ultimately affect sleep.
Insufficient sleep can severely impair a child's functioning causing daytime fatigue, poor health and weaker immune function. Sleep-deprived children can suffer from emotional disturbances and emotional regulation problems. When kids are tired, you tend to see more irritability, grouchiness, and emotional highs and lows. When teenagers get insufficient sleep, it can be tied to depressive symptoms, irritability, and even suicidal thoughts and actions.
How Much Should A Child Sleep?
Insomnia is the most common problem pediatric sleep psychologists treat, but its presentation differs dramatically across age groups.
Infants and Toddlers
For infants and toddlers up to age 3, insomnia usually occurs because children learn to rely on a particular stimuli (such as a parent rocking them to sleep) to fall asleep and then cannot sleep on their own, a problem known as "sleep-onset association."
Psychologists consider a sleep-onset association "positive" if it does not require a parent to be present, such as a pacifier or white noise machine. On the other hand, a "negative" sleep-onset association, while not necessarily harmful, involves parent-child interaction, including feeding, rocking, or pushing the child in a stroller.
The first line of defense for insomnia is to establish consistent schedules and routines. Children should have consistent and appropriate bedtimes and wake times, a regular bedtime routine, and a comfortable sleep environment.
When children transition from a crib to a bed, behavioral insomnia can start to manifest as bedtime resistance. The child may refuse to get into bed, leave the bed frequently, or throw tantrums. Alternatively, the child may want to sleep and try to do so but cannot easily settle his or her mind and body.
A simple and effective intervention is for families to create a healthy bedtime routine of 3 to 5 quiet activities that take a total of 20 to 45 minutes. The routine should start at the same time each night and should flow in one direction. For example, from the kitchen to the bathroom to the bedroom and the activities should occur in the same order each night.
Another approach is to use the "bedtime pass program," which reduces curtain calls. A child receives 1 to 3 laminated passes permitting them to get out of bed for pre-approved activities such as a hug from a parent or a drink of water. When the passes are gone, the child is no longer permitted to leave the bedroom. The child is rewarded in the morning for any unused passes.
Children respond very well to concrete limits and the passes can help reduce anxiety at bedtime if they know they won't get in trouble for getting up. It is also helpful for parents to know when to put their foot down.
Teens and Sleep
The most common sleep problems for teenagers are delayed sleep-wake phase disorders and insomnia. Adolescents with a delayed circadian rhythm can sleep well on a delayed schedule, from 2 a.m. to 11 a.m., but they struggle to sleep on a more traditional schedule that allows them to wake up early enough to attend school.
Sleep psychologists typically use an approach called phase advance therapy to treat delayed sleep-wake phase disorder. Cognitive-behavioral therapies for insomina (CBTI) can also help teens and older children who have trouble settling their minds and bodies to fall asleep.
Being stuck inside can make you feel bored, frustrated, and completely exhausted, which might seem contradictory if you feel you haven't done anything aside from watching Netflix and make sourdough bread. The constraints of the pandemic can make us feel sapped and drained. Many people are wondering what they can do to maintain or increase their energy levels, while protecting themselves and their families from contracting the virus.
The changes in our routines, our mood, multiple Zoom meetings, and being bombarded with as much news as we allow ourselves to read or listen to are all adversely affecting everyone's sleep and energy.
When you feel more stressed as most of us feel during the pandemic, you are prone to also feel more exhausted. The body responds to stress by staying in the fight-or-flight mode, which produces more cortisol and makes you sleep more lightly. Additionally, when under stress, we often crave denser food such as mashed potatoes or juicy hamburgers. But all of that comfort food, also interferes with your ability to get quality sleep and therefore makes you more tired.
And when you do manage to get some quality sleep, it might be laden with nightmares during the pandemic. The Lyon Neuroscience Research Center found a 15% increase in negative dreams like nightmares. For people not on the front lines of healthcare and emergency response, fears of the novel coronavirus are projected into fears and threats of spiders, zombies, bugs, and shadowy figures.
The best way to increase your energy is to exercise. Regular exercise boots your energy and improves your immune system. There are a wide number of fitness workouts that are available online during the shelter-in-place. In the Bay Area, we are allowed to go for a socially distant walk or run as long as you maintain at least 6-feet of social distance. So, lace up your sneakers and go for a brisk walk for 30 minutes to get your blood flowing, reduce your stress, clear your mind, and increase your energy. Other ideas to get your heart pumping while indoors include jumping rope, your favorite warrior yoga pose, a dance party with your children, or master the latest TikTok dances to your favorite music. Don't forget to strength train indoors as well. Try using household objects as weights such as the detergent bottle, milk jugs, packages of sugar or rice. Keep the weight balanced on both sides of the body.
Regular exercise can tire you out and make your sleep deeper and more restful, which will improve your energy over time.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, here are 55 fun and useful skills to teach your children and teenagers while we continue to shelter in place.
Stay safe and healthy!
1. Write a letter
2. Care for a pet
3. Make a phone call
4. Leave a voicemail
5. Take a phone message
6. Sew a button
7. Select a thoughtful gift
8. Admit a mistake with grace
9. Converse with an elder
10. Set the table
11. Clear the table
12. Load and unload the dishwasher
13. Give someone the benefit of the doubt
14. Iron a shirt
15. Introduce themselves
16. Hammer a nail
17. Have good table manners
18. Change a light bulb
19. Make scrambled eggs
20. Balance a checkbook
21. Do the laundry
22. Fix something
24. Open, close and lock windows and doors
25. Weigh the pros and cons
27. Use a fire extinguisher
28. Make a healthy salad
29. Write a thank you note
30. Make a smoothie
31. Clean the refrigerator
33. Hang a picture
34. Clean the bathroom, including the toilet and tub.
35. Budget their money
36. Save money
37. Notice the needs of others
38. Read a recipe
39. Play with a baby
40. Genuinely apologize
41. Plan a healthy meal
42. Wash dishes
43. Clean the kitchen
44. Refill a stapler
45. Write a check
46. Put air in a flat bike or car tire
47. Change a flat tire
48. Pump gas
49. Read a map
50. Find a book at the library
51. Check tire pressure
52. Seek help from an experienced person
53. Ask questions to get to know someone better
54. Wait and save for something
55. Fold the laundry
As more testing is finally being done and we learn more and more about the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), it's becoming clearer that the situation we are all in will last for, at least, the next few months.
To help your child through the next few months, here are some tips:
First, spend time together as a family. Bake a cake, have a dance party, do a puzzle together, go for a walk in your neighborhood while maintaining social distance of 6 feet, read a book together, watch a movie as a family, wash the car together, make up stories, laugh, play, and enjoy each other's company.
Second, allow and encourage feelings to be expressed. It's important to help children express their feelings and make sure you listen and help them expand on what they are sharing. It's also important for children to hear parents express their feelings in a manner that they can process.
Third, reassurance is key. Once we've listened to a child, and tried to fully hear them out, then we should reassure them. Reassuring someone without listening to them first is not as effective.
Fourth, encourage your child to help others. When children are able to help others, it makes them feel more in control of the world around them. They are no longer helpless, but instead, they're giving help to others. This helps children develop confidence, and it makes them feel proactive in the best of times and in the most difficult situations.
With news of rising death tolls and crashing stock markets, and declarations from top officials that the US is unprepared to handle the pending global pandemic, it's unsurprising that Americans are worried, if not downright panicked, about the Coronavirus.
According to psychologists, Coronavirus-related anxiety is an understandable response to the unknown, but some people are especially vulnerable. To cope, they recommend limiting media exposure to the topic by sticking to one or two trusted sources.
Read more about Coronavirus anxiety and ways of effectively coping with it.
Limit your media exposure and wash your hands, often and thoroughly.
Dr. Gerard Costa, a DIRFloortime Expert, recently discussed the role of co-regulation in the development of self-regulation. The article can be found on the National Institute for Children's Health Quality.
At the end of the article, he presents a very simple framework for thinking about how families can help engage in co-regulating experiences with their children. It is worth a read. Here is an excerpt:
Costa developed an acronym called A.G.I.L.E. that provides guidance on what constitutes a co-regulating response when the child is distressed. The guidance can help pediatric health professionals advise parents on what to keep in mind as they engage in co-regulating responses.
The AGILE Approach to Co-regulating Responses advises parents to pay close attention to their:
Miranda J. Gabriel, Psy.D.
A licensed clinical psychologist providing psychotherapy to children, teens, and adults in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Information and opinions found on this website
are not substitutes for
medical or psychological advice. Dr. Gabriel can't answer questions about someone's specific situation or give
personal advice. Please see the Disclaimer section under the Contact Page for more information.