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The Healthy Mind Platter

My mentor and teacher, Dr. Daniel Siegel, has collaborated with David Rock on a new project that I think is very exciting and helpful.

By now, you might be familiar with the new US Department of Agriculture revised food pyramid, which is a plate that shows which food groups and how much of each you need to help develop healthy bodies.  With an obesity epidemic rampant in the United States, it is hoped that this new design will be helpful to people in assisting them to make healthier choices.

Of course, it is very important to pay attention to our bodies because they get us around in the world. But, I am sure you will agree that it is just as important to take care of our minds and brains because this is what we use to make sense of our worlds.

With that in mind, Dr. Dan Siegel has collaborated with David Rock to design The Healthy Mind Platter. The Healthy Mind Platter consists of seven daily essential mental activities necessary for optimum mental health.

 With the thought that our mind is also in need of careful attention to establish and maintain mental health, the Healthy Mind Platter is designed to encourage a process called integration.   Integration includes the way we connect with others, and how we connect the different parts of our bodies and even the different parts of our brain.  Taking time to pay attention to how we spend our time and referring to the Healthy Mind Platter, is a great beginning toward good mental health.

Following is a list of the seven daily essential mental activities recommended. I think that you will find them self-explanatory.

Focus Time – When we closely focus on tasks in a goal-oriented way, we take on challenges that make                              deep connections in the brain.

Play Time – When we allow ourselves to be spontaneous or creative, playfully, enjoying novel experiences, we help make new connections in the brain.

Connecting Time – When we connect with other people, ideally in person, and when we take time to appreciate our connection to the natural world around us, we activate and reinforce the brain’s relational circuitry.

Physical Time – When we move our bodies, aerobically if medically possible, we strengthen the brain in many ways.

Time In – When we quietly reflect internally, focusing on sensations, images, feelings and thoughts, we help to better integrate the brain.

Down Time – When we are non-focused, without any specific goal, and let our mind wander or simply relax, we help the brain recharge.

Sleep Time – When we give the brain the rest it needs, we consolidate learning and recover from the experiences of the day.

Taking time each day to have an assortment of mental activities is as important as having a balanced diet.  And, just as we aren’t able to always eat a balanced diet, it is difficult to have a balance of brain activities every day. The idea, however, is to begin to become familiar with these activities and to perhaps notice what you may have too much of or not enough of.

Over the next few months, I will write more about each of these activities. In the meantime, I’ve decided to keep a journal as an experiment to measure my daily mental activities following the above outline. In this way, I hope to notice what is out of balance and adjust accordingly. You might want to try this also.  I would love to hear your thoughts and insights on The Healthy Mind Platter.

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