7 Ways To Feed Your Brain

When it comes to maintaining physical health, we all know how important a balanced diet is. However, we seem to be less clear about what we need to maintain a healthy mind.

Dr. David Rock, executive director of the NeuroLeadership Institute and author of Your Brain at Work, believes we are living in a “time when too many people’s mental well-being is being stretched through multi-tasking, fragmented attention and information overload,” and asserts that we are now facing “an epidemic of overwhelm.”

In response to this epidemic, Dr. Rock, in collaboration with Dr. Daniel Siegel, has created what he calls the Healthy Mind Platter. This platter offers seven essential mental activities that are necessary for optimum mental health, and provides the full set of ‘mental nutrition’ that your brain needs to function at its best. Here they are:

Focus Time

When we closely focus on tasks in a goal-oriented way, taking on challenges that make deep connections in the brain.

Play Time

When we allow ourselves to be spontaneous or creative, playfully enjoying novel experiences, which helps make new connections in the brain.

Connecting Time

When we connect with other people, ideally in person, richly activating the brain’s social circuitry.

Physical Time

When we move our bodies, aerobically if possible, which strengthens the brain in many ways.

Time In

When we quietly reflect internally, focusing on sensations, images, feelings and thoughts, helping to better integrate the brain.

Down Time

When we are non-focused, without any specific goal, and let our mind wander or simply relax, which helps our brain recharge.

Sleep Time

When we give the brain the rest it needs to consolidate learning and recover from the experiences of the day.

Of course it’s all about balance.

Just like it wouldn’t be healthy to eat only carbohydrates, so too you shouldn’t just live on Focus Time without much Sleep Time. The point is to understand the full spectrum of essential mental activities, and then try to provide as many oppourtunities for your brain to develop in different ways.

When I first came across the Healthy Mind Platter I was deeply challenged to find more balance in what I was putting into my mind.

How do YOU feel about what you’re feeding your brain?

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9 Comments on “7 Ways To Feed Your Brain

  1. Interesting post Tom – I had personally never been a person prone to anxiety/feelings of overwhelm but a sustained period of intense stress put me in that category. One thing I was told in addition to all the things you’ve listed, by a naturopath, was the importance of a mineral supplement to help restore our nervous system which helps us manage the stress and rush of everyday life and be able to stay calm etc. Was told the same thing about minerals and the nervous system / healing of the brain by a psychotherapist in helping our foster son heal. Guess it all comes down to balancing all the aspects of who we are again – mind, body, spirit as they are all interlinked.

  2. Time in” gets tricky with roudy children! -Stillness/serentity/tranquility are rare in our fast-paced and sometimes performance-based ethics inherited from a Greco-Roman culture. Sometimes its good just to have a look at cultures originating from Eastern/Semetic backgrounds where a lot of these aspects of “time” are practiced and are part of a lifestyle. Our current media culture does help to create more potential for distraction – I guess balance is becoming so much more important!

  3. Reblogged this on To tell you the truth and commented:
    Thank you Tom Basson for a timely and excellent article… I was wondering why I felt so mentally starved! No one else can or will take care of our spiritual and emotional health but us! Always good to be reminded how.

  4. Excellent brain food here in this article. Funny how easy it is (at least for me) to immediately see the areas where I’m neglecting to feed the brain.

  5. I’ve heard a little of this from anti-aging experts, advocating board games and such for the elderly to keep their brains healthy. But this list is pretty comprehensive. Thanks for this research. I’ll have to check out those resources – they look pretty interesting.

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