Play Attention improves the cognitive skills that lay the foundation for strong Executive Functioning, but many of our clients would like to know other activities they can do outside of their Play Attention sessions to improve cognitive skills even more. In the coming weeks, we'll be giving specific examples of such activities divided into age category. This week, we're going to talk about adults:
Activity 1 for Adults: Crafting a Feelings Folio
Areas developed: Introspection, Emotional Self-Regulation/Self-Control
At first glance, this exercise might seem to serve the same purpose as a journal or diary, but it is actually quite different. To begin you'll want to decide on a way to record your work. This can be anything from a piece of paper to a Word document on your computer. Preferably, however, this should be something that can accommodate a growing assemblage of realized thoughts.
Step two is look up the definition of a word that describes an emotion you have felt recently or tend to feel often: Anger, Fear, Joy, Anxiety--there are no wrong answers here, so it doesn't matter if it's what you consider to be a "positive" or a "negative" emotion.
Next, look up the literal definition of the word itself via online search or even a physical dictionary. Write the word and the definition down in your Feelings Folio. Next, via either an online thesaurus on a paper one, look that word up to find other words that indicate either the exact same emotion or one very similar to it.
Think about how each addition to your Feelings Folio is described, and take a moment to remember a time when you yourself felt exactly that way. Some words and their definitions will connect strongly with you. Others will not. But the trick here is to accurately and thoroughly define what any given emotion means to you personally. The more aware of what you feel, and how you emotionally react in concrete terms, the better you are at regulating that emotion.
Another way to think of this is that you are training yourself to reflect on the emotion itself and define it, instead of simply feeling it and thus acting on it.
This can sometimes be a taxing process, so don't try to rush it. Just go through this process with one emotion at a time, and get specific. Are you feeling comfortable or elated? Or you feeling inconvenienced or enraged? The more you narrow it down, the better. And be sure to relate each specific emotion to specific causes or situations in which you experienced it.
When I go to the grocery store, and someone has parked over the middle line thus taking up two spaces instead of just one, I feel ________.
All of this goes in your Feeling Folio. And even if you don't rush it, even if you take your time with this process, (as you should), you'll be amazed at how quickly it fills up. Be certain to review your entries often.