The Healthy Mind Platter - A Simple Tool for Optimising the Mind

by Mike Conway, Emotional Agility & Mind Coach, Socceroos

For those of you who’ve had the challenge of lockdown or quarantine or both, no doubt like me it may have affected your normal fitness regime and your overall wellbeing. That’s a given. But what about your fitness regime of the mind?

I originally wrote this into my 10th week of lockdown and truthfully it was a challenge to keep my mind in a flexible, adaptable, energised and stable state throughout.                                                                      

Sometimes I even lost coherence too and I’ve slipped in and out of chaos and rigid thinking a number of times.  However, I do have a few tricks and tools to help me move forward as quick as possible.  Not least was my daily “essential” coffee run into the village and my ten minutes a day looking over the beach across the ocean from the headland.

Such simple things may not be rocket science but in the busy-ness of life or the uncertainty of life, we do forget to give ourselves time for these simple things.  These things are really important.

In recent weeks I have begun to notice some emerging verbal patterns of people I’ve been speaking to. Perhaps these patterns have always been there and maybe I’m just noticing them more often during these strange times.

“I’m so bored.”

“ I’m so busy.”

“I’m flat out.”

“I’ve got nothing to do”

“I’ve not got enough time.”

“I’ve got too much time.”  

The common thread? A dichotomy on time. Let’s face it.  Just like the size of football goals, the amount of time we all have in a day is exactly the same.  It’s what we do with it that impacts our success as a human being.

This all got me thinking on how we can use time and manage time in our day to optimise the mind and achieve high levels of wellbeing.  It reminded me of a model which caught my eye in my neurobiology studies almost a decade ago.  Through extensive research in neuroscience, psychiatry and biology, “The Healthy Mind Platter” developed by Dr Dan Siegel and Dr David Rock suggests seven essential mental activities to optimise the mind and create well-being.  Guess what? They all relate to time and like all good models - simple to understand but often harder to implement. Here they are:

Focus Time - concentrated time on an activity requiring deep attention without distraction

Play Time - time on something you love which gives joy and pleasure with no judgement from anyone.  Time to try new things out.  To innovate.

Time In - time to focus inward including meditation, reflective practice and mindfulness

Physical Time – time to undertake activity to keep the body and the mind in good physical shape

Connecting time – Connecting with the world – people, pets, planet

Down time – time to do nothing. Time for no plans. No specific anything

Sleep Time – Rest to protect the whole body including removing neurotoxins from a day of neural activity.

How’s your healthy mind platter?  Are there some adjustments to be made? Personally, I know my daily health platter is out of sync right now.  Lots of focus time and some reasonable “time-in” with a smattering of “physical time” and an average “sleep time” (worries and woes on work and some family health issues add to the mix there). “Connecting time” has been a real struggle and I can feel it affecting my mind. 

As for “play time” and “down time” – well pretty much non-existent.  No wonder my Mind isn’t as fully integrated as it should be and my overall performance is being affected.  It’s time to readjust.  I know from experience; the readjustment impacts all round performance. 

This isn’t just my experience.  This is the science too.  All the evidence shows that anything we can do to improve the integration of our mind will have an impact in our performance.  

So today – I’m not going to be at the desk all day.  I’m heading out for a longer walk.  Will pick the guitar up for half an hour.  No plans with the instrument other than that.  Going to chat to one of my sons and check out my first grandson born at the weekend!  I’m already feeling better!  Perhaps you can use this simple tool for yourself or someone else who might need some help close by. Take a few minutes out.  Perhaps at the beginning of the day and at the end of the day to check in with your healthy mind platter.

Since you're here, do check out what the FCA XV Essential Skills Program is all about. Plus, if you require CPD points for license re-validation, you'll receive 30 points for completed modules.  

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