You may be familiar with the old food pyramid, which showed the guidelines for healthy eating. The USDA has changed the healthy eating guidelines from the food pyramid to Choose My Plate, a pictorial overview of what your plate should look like at each meal to optimize physical health.

Dr. Daniel Siegel,  a respected clinical professor of psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine, asked the question, what would the equivalent of a recommended daily diet for a healthy mind look like? To answer that question he created the Healthy Mind Platter.  a pictorial overview of seven daily essential mental activities you should do each and every day to optimize brain matter and create well being.  The seven essentials are;

1. Focus Time When we closely focus on tasks in a goal-oriented way, we take on challenges that make deep connections in the brain.  These connections are not created when we multi-task.

2. Play Time When we allow ourselves to be spontaneous or creative, playfully enjoying novel experiences, we help make new connections in the brain.

3.Connecting Time When we connect with other people, ideally in person, and when we take time to appreciate our connection to the natural world around us, we activate and reinforce the brain’s relational circuitry.

4.Physical Time When we move our bodies, aerobically if medically possible, we strengthen the brain in many ways.

5.Time In When we quietly reflect internally, focusing on sensations, images, feelings and thoughts, we help to better integrate the brain.

6.Down Time When we are non-focused, without any specific goal, and let our mind wander or simply relax, we help the brain recharge.

7.Sleep Time When we give the brain the rest it needs, we consolidate learning and recover from the experiences of the day.

What I found most fascinating is the science and research behind these seven essentials.  And even better, they are easy and fun to do.  So play, connect, get physical and in the process fight off mental decline and increase happiness – what’s not to like?


Valorie Bender


The Healthy Mind Platter was created by Dr. Daniel J. Siegel, Executive Director of the Mindsight Institute and Clinical Professor at the UCLA School of Medicine in collaboration with Dr. David Rock, Executive Director of the NeuroLeadership Institute.