How to have a healthy mind

While the link between a balanced diet and physical exercise to having a healthy body is commonly understood, there is less clarity around what contributes to a healthy mind.  

To help fill this gap, neuroscientist David Rock and Dr Dan Siegel have developed a framework for creating and maintaining mental well-being called The Healthy Mind Platter.

Siegel writes, "The Healthy Mind Platter has 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."

The seven recommended activities are:

  • Physical Time - Move your body to strengthen your brain. 

  • Focus Time - Closely focus on tasks in a goal-oriented way to take on challenges that make deep connections in your brain.

  • Connecting Time - Connect with other people, ideally in person, and take time to appreciate your connection to the natural world around you to activate and reinforce your brain's relational circuitry. 

  • Play Time - Be spontaneous, creative, playful, and enjoy novel experiences to help make new connections in your brain. 

  • Down Time - Let your mind wander or simply relax to help your brain recharge. 

  • Time In - Quietly reflect internally, focusing on sensations, images, feelings and thoughts to help to better integrate your brain. 

  • Sleep Time - Give your brain the rest it needs to consolidate learning and recover from the experiences of the day.

Siegel continues, "By engaging every day in each of these servings, you promote integration in your life and enable your brain to coordinate and balance its activities. These essential mental activities strengthen your brain's internal connections and your connections with other people and the world around you."