The Healthy Mind Platter: your first step to better mental health


Many individuals have a desire to have a healthier mind; and for most of us, I think it is safe to say that we would all hope to have great mental health. We want to have a healthy mind that is functioning properly of course, but we also desire a healthy mind that can connect with others.*

Two psychiatrists, Dr. Daniel Siegel and Dr. David Rock, created a concept that helps individuals identify several key activities that help integration in the brain- the healthy mind platter. This healthy mind platter is a great activity if you want to step into a new routine of maintaining greater mental well-being. 

The healthy mind platter is a "visual reminder of what people could do each day to promote mental well-being". 

So if you are interested in increasing your mental health, this is the exercise for you! 

In the following text I will describe the seven daily mental activities from the healthy mind platter to help you on your way to a healthier mind. Remember, that incorporating all seven times into your life is very crucial to the healthy mind platter exercise. 

The 7 "times" of the HEALTHY MIND PLATTER:

1. Focus Time

When we choose to focus on something, there are chemicals in our brains that create positive changes. Some of these changes include memory, encoding, and learning. When we were kids, much of our learning came from being in school. Many adults are done with school and have no longer a need to learn new things; however, it is scientifically proven that learning more, helps with having a stronger memory as you age. 

Focus Time Suggestions:

- pick up a new hobby

- read a book

- build something new

2. Play Time

I don't know about you, but most of the time I feel like I don't have time to "play". Especially as a graduate student working full-time, I feel like I barely can keep up! Yet incorporating "play" into daily routine is very integral. Being playful actually supports healthy nueroplastic growth. When we are playful, our minds can take risks as we go beyond our usual ways of doing things-our brains try new ways of doing things too!

Play Time Suggestions:

- playing your instrument

- making a craft

- writing a poem

3. Connecting Time

Many studies reveal that positive relationships contribute to longevity, happiness, and wisdom. Connecting with other people has great benefits for our own health. Another way to connect is through being in nature. Studies show positive results from people who spend time connecting in nature. 

Connecting Time Suggestions:

- call a friend

- invite friends over for a movie night

- go on a morning hike

4. Physical Time

This sort of "time" is another one that I feel like I rarely have time for, yet it is very important to make sure that you make time in your schedule for some physical activity. The researchers suggest that physical time should include aerobic movement to benefit brain activity. It is easy nowadays to stay on the couch all day if we wanted to!

Physical Time Suggestions:

- go for a run around the neighborhood

- swim in a pool

- rock climbing

5. Time-In

Another aspect of the healthy mind plater is time-in. This means to reflect inwardly and to focus attention on sensations, feelings, and thoughts. Time-in has shown to help with resilience

Time-In Suggestions:

- yoga

- t'ai chi


6. Down Time

Down time is important because it helps us acknowledge the importance of time to just do nothing. This is a time to recharge and relax. Having this time allows our brain to take a break from the constant stimuli of the day. 

Down Time Suggestions:

- take a warm bath

- watch a movie on the couch

- get a massage

7: Sleep Time

 Lastly, sleep time! Sleep time is very important for the brain because the brain takes everything that it learned from that day and stores it into long-term learning. If you do not get good quality sleep, it can be more difficult to learn or remember. 

Sleep Time Suggestions:

- make a night time routine

- schedule out your day to make sure you can prioritize sleep

- have someone help keep you accountable of when you go to bed


These seven activities way be very overwhelming to you. Some people are great at some of these "times" but not-so-great at others. My suggestion is to list out these times from your strongest to your weakest. Next, figure out which one you want to prioritize working on first. This may seem overwhelming at first, but when you break up each "time" into different steps, it can feel less stressful and more rewarding when you see your progress!

I hope the healthy mind platter was helpful for you! What questions do you have? Let me know below!

*Reference: Siegel, D. (2012). Pocket Guide to Interpersonal Neurobiology: An Integrative Handbook of the Mind. New York: W.W. Norton & Co.

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