Mental health seems to be a hot topic these days. I feel like this is a good thing. People are trying to figure out how to take better care of themselves mentally and are more open to talking about it. With the new year starting, people tend to set goals for themselves when it comes to physical health. This is also a good time to think about how you can take better care of your mental health.
Dan J. Seigel, MD, a clinical professor of psychology, author and clinical therapist, talks about seven essential mental activities that help create mental well-being. Those activities are focus time, play time, connecting time, physical time, time in, down time, and sleep time.
This means focusing on tasks in a goal-oriented way which in turn means that we are able to form deeper connections in the brain by taking on these challenges. Some ways you can accomplish this are:
When we are able to be spontaneous or creative, we are able to make new connections in the brain. Being playful and in the moment with our experiences is a great way to fully enjoy these experiences.
When we’re able to connect with others, we’re able to activate the brain’s natural instinct to connect. It’s obviously ideal if we’re able to do this in person. If you’re not able to be with people in person, try connecting with them over the phone or on video. Make sure to limit distractions so you’re fully present in the moment with them.
By moving our bodies, we are able to strengthen the brain in many ways. Any movement is better than none!
“Time in” means that we take time to reflect internally. We can focus on sensations, images, feelings and thoughts which will help these integrate into the brain better. Some helpful activities are:
This means that we allow ourselves to have time where we’re not goal oriented or we relax. When we do this, we are able to help our brain recharge.
During this time, we give our brain the rest that it needs. This activity also allows the brain to recharge.
All of these activities will help with increasing your mental health or taking care of it. Many people might say that they don’t have time to do some of these things, so I would challenge you to start small. Take one small step and then build on that. Be intentional about incorporating these activities into your day so your mental health is taken care of just like your physical health.