Being mindful of our consumption is thinking beyond the food we put into our bodies and looking beyond the purchases we make for our home. Conscious consumption extends into the books we read, the shows we watch, and the people we spend our free time with outside our work environments.
We consume data, emotions, and energy daily. And rather than continually feeling reactive to whatever happens to appear in front of you, what if you felt as though you were more in control of what you energetically consumed and how you felt at the end of the day?
We all know that we need to have a balanced diet; some of us are better at it than others. None of us eat from one category in the food pyramid. Regardless of your diet, I’m going to bet money that you don’t just eat protein. You also eat vegetables and carbohydrates, and maybe some fruit. We put so much mental energy into preparing and planning our diets or the food we eat but not any or as much energy on choosing to be mindful of what else is energetically coming into our lives.
Similar to how we have variety in our diets, let’s focus on creating more diversity in the activities and the things we choose to consume. It doesn’t have to be a super huge shift either. We aren’t overhauling our whole lives! I’m talking about making small changes. Rather than consistently reading books of the thriller genre, change it up next time and read a Young Adult book, something lighter and creating less work for your brain to process. Rather than watching CNN, what if you watched a different news channel like my personal favorite, NHK World Japan? The brain is processing the visuals in front of you, and CNN tends to be in bright colors. And the content is often anxiety-producing news commentary.
On the other hand, NHK World Japan has a variety of programming, and often the colors presented are a nice neutral, calm color. Rather than going to Crossfit, what if you tried a yoga class and moved your body differently this week? Or, instead of meeting the friend that always brings you down by sabotaging the conversation and complaining about her ex-husband, what if you drove a bit farther to see the friend that makes your spirit lift and honestly gives the best hugs?
When you are more mindful of what you are consuming beyond the food you put in your mouth but the books you read, the TV shows you watch, or the people you follow on social media, you’ll notice how those other things have a significant influence on your mental health. For example, watching shows or reading books with a psychological thriller aspect to them, like Law & Order SVU, in the evening raises our blood pressure while watching the show. Though we aren’t the ones being attacked and hidden in a basement, our body is naturally reacting to that data as though it might be in danger too. It’s no wonder we then struggle with going to sleep! Our body needs time to wind down from that elevated blood pressure and mild anxiety. This is why it’s important to be more mindful of what we consume; it affects our mental health and mood.
This week, try to be mindful of all aspects of your consumption. Simply notice it. What are you bringing into your life, your mind, your heart? What are you taking in? And then ask yourself, could I choose differently? Would there be a healthier choice for me to make right now in this season of my life? For example, would it be better for my mental health to watch a comedy show when life feels overwhelming and I’m struggling with burnout? Would I feel less stressed if I skipped lunch with the old coworkers and instead focused on creating new relationships in this new job? There are so many small shifts that you can make that are easy to do that will considerably impact your mental state of being. It’s as easy as changing the channel on the TV.