Everyone faces challenges in life. How big or difficult these challenges are will be different for each of us but we all know what it’s like to feel drained and struggling to cope. The five ways to wellbeing is about finding ways to build on our strengths and to increase our resilience in order to meet the challenges we all encounter from time to time. It is also about going further than coping and surviving and realising that there is good evidence that a range of simple actions are strongly linked to people feeling happier and more satisfied with their lives.
At the end of each wellbeing topic, there will be three questions for you to answer. There is no pass or fail, these questions are about you, and for you, and will hopefully help you in making a choice to take a chance and change your life.
When it comes to our wellbeing, other people matter. Evidence shows that good relationships – with family, friends and our wider communities – are important for our mental wellbeing.
Mental wellbeing means feeling good – about ourselves and the world around us – and functioning well. Building stronger, wider social connections can help us feel happier and more secure, and give us a greater sense of purpose.
Human beings are social animals. Relationships build a sense of belonging and self-worth. Strong relationships with family and friends allow us to share our feelings and know that we are understood. They provide an opportunity to share positive experiences, and can give us emotional support. They give us a chance to support others – something else that is known to promote mental wellbeing.
There's also evidence that wellbeing can be passed on through relationships. Being around people with strong mental wellbeing can improve your own mental wellbeing.
With this in mind, with the help Lancashire Wellbeing Service, or by yourself, try to do something different today and make a connection.
• Arrange a day out with friends you haven't seen for a while.
• Make the effort to phone people sometimes – it's all too easy get into the habit of only ever texting, messaging or emailing people.
• Speak to someone new today. •Have lunch with a colleague.
• Visit a friend or family member who needs support or company
• Volunteer at a local school, hospital or community group.
• Make the most of technology – video chat apps like Skype and FaceTime are a great way of staying in touch with friends and family, particularly if you live far apart.
Questions for you
1. How would you know if you were connecting or just making contact? What makes the difference?
2. If being well connected is good for your emotional wellbeing - is there anything you’d like to do more of? Is there anything you’d like to do less of?
3. Can you think of connections that you would like to make, or remake?
- be Active
Being active is great for your physical health and fitness, and evidence shows that it can also improve your mental wellbeing.We think that the mind and body are separate. But what you do with your body can have a powerful effect on your mental wellbeing.
Mental wellbeing means feeling good – both about yourself and about the world around you. It means being able to get on with life in the way you want. Evidence shows that there is a link between being physically active and good mental wellbeing.
Being active doesn’t mean you need to spend hours in the gym, if that doesn't appeal to you. Find physical activities that you enjoy and think about how to fit more of them into your daily life.
Physical activity can help people with mild depression. Evidence shows that it can also help protect people against anxiety. Physical activity is thought to cause chemical changes in the brain, which can help to positively change our mood. Being active can improve wellbeing because it brings about a sense of greater self-esteem, self-control and the ability to rise to a challenge.
As we said, you don’t have to spend hours in a gym, some of the below are ways in which you can ‘be active’
• Take the stairs not the lift
• Go for a walk at lunchtime
• Walk into work - perhaps with a colleague – so you can ‘connect’ as well
• Get off the bus one stop earlier than usual and walk the final part of your journey to work
• Organise a work sporting activity
• Do some ‘easy exercise’, like stretching, before you leave for work in the morning
• Walk to someone’s desk instead of calling or emailing.
Questions for you
1. What activities do I engage in on a regular basis? How would I like to develop this?
2. Who can support me to be more active at home/work? What can we do together?
3. Are there any minor adjustments I can make in my life that can help me be more active? (Remember, ‘small changes can make a big difference’)
- TAKE NOTICE
Most of us are fairly busy. Our mind is active throughout the day. We constantly seem to be doing something. We focus on the next step and the next task in hand. More often than not, we focus on the various things that need to be sorted, project deadlines that need to be met, unpaid bills, the various phone calls we need to make, the appointments we need to keep etc.
Most importantly we forget to take notice, to be aware and mindful of our surroundings, to be alert and awake rather than lost in thought or forgetful of where we are and what is happening around us. To take notice is to pause, even if for a brief period, to spend some time in silence and reflect on our experiences, to look up and give time and attention to being aware of where we are and what is before us.
To take notice is to be in the present, in the ‘here and now’ and tune in not only to our bodily sensations, our breathing and our experiences but also to what is going on around us, in our surroundings. Heightened awareness also enhances your self-understanding and allows you to make positive choices based on your own values and motivations.
Take some time to enjoy the moment and the environment around you.
Here are a few ideas:
• Have a ‘clear the clutter’ day
• Take notice of how your colleagues are feeling or acting
• Take a different route on your journey to or from work
• Try something new - visit a new place for lunch.
Questions for you
1. If noticing enhances wellbeing, what opportunities can I take or make to take notice more often?
2. How can I practice slowing down and pausing more often?
3. What difference will incorporating this in my day to day life make?
- Keep Learning
Learning new skills can be useful, but research shows it can also improve our mental wellbeing. It doesn’t have to mean getting more qualifications. There are lots of different ways to bring learning into your life.
Many of us associate learning with childhood or our student days. As adults, it can seem as though we have less time or need to learn new things. But evidence shows that continuing to learn throughout life can improve and maintain our mental wellbeing.
Mental wellbeing means feeling good – about yourself and the world around you – and being able to get on with life in the way you want. Learning can boost self-confidence and self-esteem, help build a sense of purpose, and help us connect with others.
People who carry on learning after childhood report higher wellbeing and a greater ability to cope with stress. Setting targets and hitting them can create positive feelings of achievement. Learning often involves interacting with other people. This can also increase our wellbeing by helping us build and strengthen social relationships.
These are just some of the ways in which the Lancashire Wellbeing Service can help you if needed.
• Visit a gallery or museum and learn about a person or period in history that interests you.
• Fix that broken bike or garden gate. Once you’ve done that, how about setting yourself a bigger DIY project? There are lots of free video tutorials online.
• Sign up for a course you’ve been meaning to do at a local night school. You might learn a new language, or try something practical, such as plumbing.
• Rediscover an old hobby that challenges you, whether it's making model aeroplanes, writing stories, sewing or knitting.
• Learn something new about the other people, their hopes and wishes, what makes them smile, what they value in life, their strengths and inner resources etc
Questions for you
1. What do I think about ‘learning’? Would I like to learn something new each day?
2. What would I like to learn about? What interests me, what do I value, what would be useful?
3. What do I need to do to make learning fun and something I look forward to?
Every relationship is one of give and take. ‘The more we give the more we receive’ is a wise old saying. Giving is associated with emotional wellbeing. There is a difference though in giving for the sake of politeness, obligation or duty and giving because your intention is to feel good and make the other person feel good. When you are in a frame of mind in which you feel good in the very act of giving, this is going to enhance your wellbeing and can also contribute to the wellbeing of the person whose life you touch. Evidence shows that volunteering has a positive impact on our sense of worth and sense of belonging.
There are many opportunities to give in small ways every day.
• Giving a smile, a compliment, encouragement
• Giving a hand, giving way to other car drivers
• Giving your time, a silent wish or prayer
• Give yourself the gift of connecting, of being active, of noticing
• Giving thanks i.e. being grateful for whatever good is happening in your life.
Some people say that they find giving easy, but that they don’t feel as comfortable to receive. This is especially true when it comes to receiving compliments. They may murmur a quick ‘thank you’ but don’t really accept the compliment or are dismissive. Giving is a two way process – your acceptance of what someone else gives is good for them as well as for you. By becoming more comfortable with the ‘give and take’ of everyday life we build ourselves up as well as give opportunities to others.
Questions for you
1. What do you give others on a regular basis? Do you notice what it’s like for you when you give to others?
2. What else could you give others that you hadn’t thought of before? What small gifts can you offer that you will feel good about?
3. What do you give yourself? How can you be more generous and appreciative to yourself? What ‘treats’ would really improve your experience of life?
So, that’s the five ways to wellbeing. Hopefully, you will have answered some of your own questions, maybe raised one or two new ones. Maybe you are thinking on how using the five ways to wellbeing could have a positive impact on your personal and professional life.
Is there anyone you would like to ask for support? Or anyone you want to share your thoughts with?
Then please use the contact button below, or use on the online referral form, and allow the Lancashire Wellbeing Service to assist you in making a CHOICE, to take a CHANCE and CHANGE your life.