We are stepping through the final stages of winter, a winter like none of us could ever have imagined. Not a winter dissimilar to so many others in that our world turned and included regular events of frosts, blustery days, of crisp nights, and beautiful wintery warm sunny days. And yet, change has been ever so apparent, with all of us teetering on unknowingness, uncertainty of our next required response, insecurity abounds in our previously known ‘normal’ lives, to a new way of functioning, of an increase in our level of personal responsibility and a need for adaptation to our new mode of functioning.
Spring is coming, it’s close, its promise of life, and richness, and abundance are tantalising us to inch forward, to grow. Spring’s embrace brings a new boldness, a braveness, as we reach forward with courage and grasp our future selves with all its challenges.
Country New South Wales has fared relatively well and there are so many attributes worthy of great commendation, the community spirit evolves and abounds, crossing all barriers, and holding the worthiness of humanity to the fore. Often, we have exemplified this best in the little things that have engendered life, contributed, made us laugh, and fostered healthy tears. An expression of global and individual emotion is vital to our core and personal growth which is warranted in these times.
One of my favourite examples for personal reflection is to foster our minds to function and perform well. The Psychiatrist Dan Siegal’s example, is the representation of cognitive growth through his version being a ‘Healthy Mind Platter’ (google this for a great video). I love the simplification as he uses the metaphor of a healthy plate of food (of carbs, proteins, and fats) and puts a healthy mind in a plate image, demonstrating how our minds can be functional, fit and express a vibrancy which comes through health.
The healthy mind platter utilises seven activities to highlight how our minds work best. The following activities are relatively easy to implement in our lives and serve to support our best version of self. Siegal argues a balance of the following to be considered:
Sleep is critical and yet so many of us don’t get sufficient. Sleep is essential to consolidate our learning as it integrates our past, present, and future. Sleep is critical to foster our physical health and metabolism and serves to nurture our immune system (so vital in our times).
Moving our bodies, aerobically if possible, creates feelings of genuine well-being and has the added benefit of growing brain connections throughout the lifespan, helping the brain to grow and fostering us to stay strong as physical strength aids our mental strength.
Allowing true relaxation and thus facilitating our brain to recharge.
Paying close attention to some project, not multitasking, rather engendering feelings of mastery and accomplishment. This has the ability to facilitate the strengthening of neurons and achievement in tasks.
Playful, novelty, spontaneity, humour and delight. Siegal notes children are great at this, adolescents less so, and adults are lacking! Play time adds new connections and expands the mind beyond the familiar (what a great concept in this changing world).
The ability to reflect inwardly encompasses our wheel of awareness and is inclusive of mindfulness, exploring inner sensations, feelings and thoughts. Our inner world grows the integrative fibres of the complete brain, aids coordination and balance, provides more emotional balance and tolerance of others.
To others (hopefully in person), and to nature. Siegal explains this so beautifully as 2p and 3g, such that the 2p represents connection to people and the planet, and the 3g represents generosity, gratitude, and giving back.
Research evidence demonstrates giving back leads to our own health and happiness. Meaning is enhanced by connection to people and the planet, achieving fulfillment and contentment in a changing world.
So this month I am advocating checking in, checking in to your own mind platter, check your balance across these activities, and be compassionate with yourself when trying to get the balance right.
My wish for you all is a brighter future. Dr Amanda
Article Published in DOWNTOWN MAGAZINE, Issue 24.