We’re all familiar with the Food Pyramid (or plate) when it comes to providing our bodies with the nutrients we need. But what about the mind? How well do we nourish it throughout the day? It’s food for thought isn’t it?
Dr. Daniel J. Siegel of the Mindsight Institute and Dr. David Rock of the NeuroLeadership Institute were discussing this concept and as a result they developed The Healthy Mind Platter.
Made up of seven different types of activities, the mind platter shows us what a recommended balanced diet for the mind looks like. It’s pretty good, and very easy to follow. If we make sure we include all seven of the activities, we are going to increase the likelihood of having a healthy mind.
Not to get too caught up in the neurological processes, by including all seven of the different activities our mind is exercising in different ways, all of which will help our brain to make connections that will enhance thinking and memory. They will also help us to connect better with other people and the wider community.
I have noticed that I often combine activities. On my early morning walks I may include down time where I’ll sit near the river and just relax and let my mind wander.
Have a read through the seven activities and see how you may want to make changes to enhance what you are feeding your mind. I found it helpful to jot down the amount of time I was spending on a particular activity. It has made a difference. Focus time was taking up a huge proportion of my day, at the expense of sleep and play time. I’ve made a few adjustments and noticed a substantial difference to my mental wellbeing.
Briefly, the seven activities in the mind platter are as follows:
1. Focus Time
We can all relate to this! The time that we spend deeply focused on challenges, goals and work commitments. We are focusing our attention on the task at hand. While it’s great to make these deep connections in the brain, overdoing it isn’t so beneficial (Taking a break every twenty minutes and then refocusing is a good idea).
2. Play Time
Over the past couple of years my business and study commitments have left me very little time for those activities that allow me to express myself creatively or just be spontaneous and have fun. Since studying neuroscience and the importance of play to making new connections in the brain I have made a few adjustments.
3. Connecting Time
Inside the brain we have what is known as relational circuitry. When we connect with others and our environment, we activate and reinforce it. A nice walk and conversation with a friend or a good laugh with an online buddy can make a huge difference to your day.
4. Physical Time
We all know that exercise is good for our bodies, it’s also good for the brain. It doesn’t matter what form of exercise you enjoy, your mind will thank you for it.
5. Time In
Spend a little time quietly reflecting on thoughts, feelings and sensations can help us to better integrate brain processes. Even a few minutes journaling or practising mindfulness will give you the benefits of time in.
6. Down Time
With time in we focus inwards, down time is to let go of the focus and simply let our minds wander, relax and recharge our brain. Think about nothing, put on some nice music, let your mind drift off.
7. Sleep Time
Many small business owners suffer from lack of restful sleep. It’s vitally important to give the brain the rest it needs. An interesting discovery is how beneficial naps can be so if you’re not getting a good night’s sleep, at least sneak in a little nap where you can.
We don’t need to have a certain amount of time spent on each activity. We can decide individually what works best for us.
How well are you feeding your mind?