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Daily Mental Nutrients for a Healthy Mind

As an analogous form of the USDA “choose my plate” pictogram, Dr. Daniel J. Siegel and Dr. David Rock came up with the “The Healthy Mind Platter”, a recommended daily diet to foster mental well-being. It identifies regular ways individuals can focus their attention to promote mental health. The foundational premise of interpersonal neurobiology is that health comes from integration, which includes how we connect and relate with our inner realities, others in our family and community, and our planet, honoring our differences and promoting compassionate linkage with each other. It uses the power of focusing our attention to strengthen integration in our bodies and our relationships. There are no indications of specific times for each activity since each individual has unique needs at any given time. These activities are seen as “essential nutrients” for optimal mental health.



Focus time:

Paying close attention to a task in a goal-oriented way, with interest and energy, taking on challenges that strengthen our brain connections.

Playtime:

Engage in spontaneous, creative, joyful, and novel experiences playfully as we discover new ways to interact with oneself, others, and the world.

Connecting time:

Emphasize the connection with the self, others, and the planet. In one dimension, it highlights our social interconnectedness and positive relations with others. The second dimension focuses on how we relate to nature. This depends our sense of belonging, essential for mental well-being.

Physical Time:

Movement- aerobic if medically possible- strengthens our body and brain in many ways, including the promotion o brain plasticity (the capacity of our brain to change as it learns and adapts).

Time in:

Quiet, inward reflection on our internal world, focusing on sensations, images, feelings, and thoughts. This practice has multiple benefits, including the growth of resilience.

Down Time:

Taking time to just “be”. Gives our brains time to recharge, consolidate learning, and enter a resting state.

Sleep Time:

When we sleep, our brain and body are restored. Sleep enables us to consolidate learning and repair and recover from the physical and psychological challenges of the prior day.


By practicing daily, we use the power of intentionally focusing our attention to positively shape the brain and our relationships; improving physical and psychological ways, fostering clarity, resilience, and happiness. Children, teens, and adults can use these practices in a variety of settings. They can inform how we spend our time at home, how class schedules are structured in school, and even how organizations care for the well-being of their staff and people in their care. How will you take your daily mental nutrients today?


References:

Siegel, D. J., Schore, A. N., & Cozolino, L. J. (2021). Interpersonal neurobiology and clinical practice . W.W. Norton & Company. Siegel, D. J., & Rock, D. (2011) The Healthy Mind Platter. Web. https://drdansiegel.com/healthy-mind-platter/


Thaina Cordero is the care coordinator at Cypress Wellness Center. She has an MS in Educational Psychology and is a trauma-informed yoga teacher. Reach out for help identifying a therapist that better suits your health, financial, and scheduling needs. Email: thaina@cypresswellnesscenter.com

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