What can we do to have mental health?
We know we have to eat vegetables for physical health, but what about our minds?
Are there recommended activities to achieve a healthy mind?
Why of course 🙂
The Healthy Mind Platter was developed by Dr Daniel J. Siegel, Executive Director of the Mindsight Institute https://www.mindsightinstitute.com/ and Clinical Professor of the UCLA School of Medicine in collaboration with Dr. David Rock, Executive Director of the NeuroLeadership Institute https://neuroleadership.com/.
They propose that we need seven daily essential mental activities necessary for optimum mental health. These seven daily activities make up the full set of “mental nutrients” that your brain and relationships need to function at their best. How many do you do?
The seven daily mental activities needed for mental health:
Closely focusing on tasks in a goal-orientated way. These activities are largely done in a work context, so challenge yourself each day with a new task or problem to solve. You will feel a sense of achievement, and each day this adds up to a greater feeling of satisfaction at the end of a work week.
When we allow ourselves to be spontaneous or creative, playfully enjoying new experiences. Engaging in dance, games or joking, taking a new class or working on a creative project. Some people write journals, have vision boards, enjoying painting or graphic design. You don’t have to be an artist, only express a side of creativity. It is important we don’t lose sight of the enjoyable and playful.
When we connect with other people, and when we take the time to appreciate our connection to the natural world around us, we promote brain health. Make sure you connect with someone each day. Connecting can be calling a friend or family member, seeing a loved one or speaking with someone at work. We are better together.
When we move our bodies, we strengthen the brain in many ways. Exercise doesn’t have to involve going to the gym. Choosing the stairs, walking the dog or light activities that get the heart rate going will do the trick.
When we quietly reflect internally, focusing on sensations, images, feelings and thoughts, we help to better integrate the brain (integrate meaning we use all areas of the brain). This can be achieved through meditation. You can use a workbook, App or a recording online. It has even been discovered that meditation can help develop gray matter in the brain, strengthening empathy and compassion. Short bursts of daily meditation (of 5mins!) can also strengthen the immune system.
When we are non-focused, with any specific goal, and let our mind wander or simply relax, we help recharge the brain recharge. I suspect most are good at this. Watching TV or reading on the couch anyone?
When we give the brain the rest it needs, we consolidate learning and recover from the experiences of the day. Getting 7-9 hours is ideal. Sleep hygiene involves the following;
- Getting regular with your sleeping pattern, similar times each workday
- If you can’t sleep after 20mins, get up and do something calming or boring until you feel sleepy again.
- Avoid caffeine, nicotine & alcohol
It is not suggested that there should be a certain amount of time for each activity. Often, your needs and lifestyle will change over time so you can’t overschedule. The point here is to become aware of the range of mental activities that are important to incorporate into each day.
Another way to understand these mental activities is with variety. It is important to have a range of activities that your mind is engaging in. What kind of activities would you like to add to your day?