Dan Siegel, a clinical professor of psychiatry at UCLA, an author, and one of my personal academic heroes, offers practical tools supported by research in several of his books, notably Brainstorm (2013) and Mindsight (2011) to develop and maintain well-being.
Siegel uses the phrase The Healthy Mind Platter which highlights 7 daily activities that promote well-being.
1) Sleeping is crucial for our bodies and especially our brains. It helps with memory consolidation, insulin function and food metabolism, immune function, stress reduction, and mental functioning such as thinking, problem solving, handling emotions, and connecting with others. According to the United States National Sleep Foundation, the recommended amount of sleep for optimal health for adults is 7 to 9 hours (Siegel, 2013, p. 285).
2) Physical time includes moving your body throughout the day. Move your body in any way you can. This is good for your brain as it enhances neuroplasticity---how our brains change in response to experiences. Try dancing, walking, yoga, or any activity that increases your heart rate for about thirty minutes a day.
3) Focus time includes focusing our attention on one thing at a time in order to give our brains the opportunity to do what is was built for--processing energy and information, linking information to other information, and consolidating the neural firing into long-term structural changes (Siegal, 2013, p. 286). Try reading without interruption, doing a cross word puzzle, or writing/journaling for twenty minutes a day.
4) Time-in refers to sitting with ourselves and reflecting on our inner world. Bringing awareness to your breath for five minutes a day is a great way to strengthen the part of the brain that regulates attention, emotion, and thinking.
5) Down time refers to doing nothing! Yes! Do nothing! Take a portion of your day and dedicate it to doing nothing, having no plans, and giving the brain a break.
6) Play time includes laughter and engaging in activities with ourselves or others that bring joy, freedom, and wonder! Doing this will help to reinvigorate the part of your brain that helps you think outside of the box.
7) Connecting time includes cultivating our relationship with others in order to enrich our lives, find more meaning, and develop wisdom through reflective conversations.
I hope these practices create a stronger sense of well-being for you throughout the next month!
Siegel, D.J. (2013). Brainstorm: The power and purpose of the teenage brain. Penguin Group.
Siegel, D. J. (2011). Mindsight: The new science of personal transfor
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