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The 5:2 diet for your mind

Psychologist Meg Arroll expounds on a novel approach to reducing overstimulation – incorporating two days of ‘active rest’ a week, enabling our brains to pause for breath and reboot with an optimised outlook

F asting is nothing new – but what if the reduced intake in question was not about food, but about two days of ‘mind fasting’ every week?

The world’s largest survey on rest – 18,000 respondents from 134 countries – found that 68 per cent of us want more rest. Perhaps even more significant is that rest-deprived people rated their overall wellbeing as half as good as those who felt that they regularly have enough time out.

Solving this is easier said than done, and doing nothing is as bad for us as doing too much. Our minds seek out information and stimuli, and we require a certain amount of input to function at our best.

The ‘5:2 mind diet’ approach does not equate to sitting on the sofa for two days – although there’s nothing wrong with the occasional box-set marathon – it’s more about cutting out ‘negative mind calories’; the ones that drain us. Negative mind calories are triggers that lead to ruminative thoughts and worry, or make us anxious or bored. For example, focusing on what we need to do next week, or replaying some perceived indiscretion from yesterday are thoughts that sap our energy and mental space. This type of thinking will not only make us feel stressed, but can also contribute to a range of health problems.

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