A common practice I use with my clients in session is to identify what their “fillers” are. It’s an invaluable exercise that can increase your emotional resiliency, sense of well being and over-all mood. I myself use my fillers regularly ever since my own therapist taught me the concept!
Your Personal Reservoir
Think of it like this: we all have a reservoir inside us that’s filled with water. The water ensures that we are healthy, happy, and emotionally resilient. However, life is naturally going to deplete that water. This could be work/school stress, a recent loss, a fight you had with your significant other, poor sleep, eating junk, or even traffic on your morning commute. If we don’t take steps to replenish our water supply, soon we’ll be “sucking mud”. We’ll be vulnerable emotionally and physically and more likely to engage in destructive behaviors, or even get sick!
Identify Your Fillers
Fillers are generally simple to identify. Think of things that you enjoy that bring you mental and physical energy. Maybe it’s ten minutes to yourself with a good read. Perhaps it’s being in nature, or chatting with a friend. Often some physical activity is a staple for anyone. Make a list of those things, making sure you pay attention to things that bring YOU energy – not things society tells you should feel good. Prioritize good sleep (7–9 hours) and healthy energizing foods.
So often, we push ourselves to the brink of sucking mud and wonder why we’re feeling so terrible. So, ensure that you do at least 2–3 fillers daily to keep your reservoir full.
Personally, my fillers fall into the categories of play, social, in nature, and active. Even if I feel pressed for time, I take a quick walk around the block (bonus if it’s with a friend!), I play with my dog in the park, and I take a few minutes to do a mindful practice.
Make it Habitual
The biggest obstacle with engaging in fillers is thinking we don’t have the time or energy. Schedule in a filler the same way you would a conference call, a date with a friend, or a doctor’s appointment. Then stick with it! Those days when you get home from work and think “I’m so drained, I just want to zone out on this couch right now and do nothing” are flags that you actually NEED a filler of some sort. Challenge yourself to instead take a walk around the block, meditate for five minutes, journal, or whatever you have identified feeds your reservoir. Trust me, you will feel so much better if you stick with this habit. And the couch will be there when you get back!
Compile a list, and make them habitual! That’s our main principle at Habitbetter to ensure success.
What is the easiest and most basic everyday practice that benefits your health and overall well-being? Let us know in the comments.