Mental Health on a Platter


What do we each need on a daily basis to have optimum mental health? I like this list coauthored by Daniel Siegel and David Rock as a means of evaluating our own daily mental activities.

The Mental Platter:

The seven essential daily mental activities 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, or take time to appreciate our connection to the natural world around us, richly activating the brain’s relational circuitry.
  • Physical Time. When we move our bodies, aerobically if medically 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. (Without specifically calling it such, I think this is where spiritual contemplation, meditation, and prayer fit)
  • 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.

This list can aid us in understanding ourselves as creatures, in the care of a Creator—in need of limits and boundaries. “The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places.” Psalm 16:6.

Which are you consistently practicing on a daily basis? Which do you neglect? And….why do you neglect it?

What do you do that isn’t on the list? Worry? Ruminate? Argue? Manipulate? Defend? Regret? If you were to sketch your own mental platter, how would it look?

For the full article on the Mental Platter, click here.


  1. I think this list covers the essentials that I have learned I need for a happy and healthy life. But my question is a practical one: can we reasonably expect to check each one off EVERY day? And, does the research show that we need each one each day? I wonder if some are daily essentials and others are weekly ones– like some need to be done at least 2-3 times per week…

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