23 Feb 7 Daily Practices to Optimize Mental Health
7 Daily Steps for Optimal Mental Health, Wellness and Healing
The Healthy Mind Platter was created in a collaboration between Dr. Daniel Siegel, a Harvard trained medical doctor and Professor of Psychiatry at UCLA Medical School, along with Dr. David Rock, director of the NeuroLeadership Institute. They created the Healthy Mind Platter to help people optimize their mental health and wellbeing.
How do you keep your mind healthy, improve relationships, and integrate your brain? If you incorporate these seven steps into your life on a daily basis, your levels of joy, fulfillment, and wellbeing will increase.
The recent pandemic created new levels of stress in our society affecting physical health, and increasing stress levels, isolation, fear, separation from loved ones, job loss, and general malaise and distrust in society and leadership. Even people who normally thrive in daily life now find themselves anxious and discouraged. Does this describe you? What changes can you make in your daily life to bring balance back into your spiritual, emotional, physical, and mental health?
There are 7 facets of our lives that Dr. Dan Siegel believes to be crucial for optimal wellbeing. These form the Healthy Mind Platter. I will explain each of these facets below, and encourage you to make some time for each of these seven things daily!
- Focus time includes solving problems and challenges for the brain, including school work, work life, or even the New York Times crosswords puzzle. Attention should remain focused on one thing at a time. Focus time releases two chemicals in the brain that allow neuron circuits to strengthen, and the mind to stay sharp and clear. What is your favorite subject to focus on?
- Play time incorporates novelty, humor, and delight. Children do this naturally. Spontaneous, creative, and novel experiences form new connections in the brain. These activities include things like paddle boarding or painting. What do you like to do that gives you a sense of play, adventure, and a willingness to expand beyond familiar territory?
- Connecting time is important. Connection with others is crucial, since we are relational beings. It is best done in person, although during the pandemic many are limited to online video calls. Connecting with the people who are important to us reinforce brain circuits. We can connect with the planet as well as people. Connections foster a sense of joy and gratitude. When we cultivate this joy, and share it with others, our own happiness and sense of meaning is enhanced. A generous spirit blesses others, as well as our own wellbeing. Who can you connect with today, even if it is over the phone, or sending a letter?
- Physical time includes fitness, ideally aerobic. The many benefits of exercise and physical activity include: improved mood, energy level, relief of stress, and improved sleep. Ideas might include going to the gym, out for a walk, hike, or a bike ride. If you stay healthy and physically fit, the brain grows connections through the lifespan, keeping the mind healthy.
- Time in Daily Internal focus on our sensations, thoughts, and feelings can be implemented through journaling or mindfulness meditation, deep breathing, or centered prayer. This relieve stress and helps us relax. It also integrates our brain as we reflect internally. This grows the integrative fibers of the brain which calms our nervous system, and gives us more emotional balance, understanding for others, and increases physical balance as well.
- Down time is time in each day for relaxation. It has no goals. It lets the mind rest, recharge, and relax. Ideas include watching a movie, a Netflix show, taking a bath, coloring a mandala, or relaxing in nature. These activities recharge the brain.
- Sleep helps us consolidate learning & integrates our past, with our present and our future. It helps us recover from all the experiences of our day and improves our immune system. Ideally we should aim for 6-9 hours of sleep per night.
The key to improving your mental health and your outlook on life includes being aware of these 7 essential mental activities, and making time for each of them in your daily life. This will strengthen and improve your well being and sense of purpose and connectedness to the whole.
In order to develop self awareness and mindfulness around your daily habits, you can draw a graph or pie chart in your journal or on your computer, and start to become aware of your choices, and if you need to spend more time focusing on things that lead to mental health. The amount of time each person can spend will vary, depending on your season in life. The important thing is to become more self aware and make any changes necessary to reorganize and restructure our daily activities to bring optimal balance and create mindful habits.
As you intentionally align your daily life with these 7 steps, you will notice improvements in your mental health, your state of mind, and improved connections in all areas of your life.
For more resources on balancing your brain, look at www.DrDanSiegel.com
Please reach out to me for counseling support, and to implement healthy changes in your life and continue your journey to personal wellbeing. My email is email@example.com
You can read more blogs like this on my website at www.JaymaJamieson.com
I look forward to hearing from you and helping you find fulfillment, purpose and joy in your life.
Jayma Jamieson, MA, NCC, LPC