The five ways to wellbeing were researched and developed by the New Economics Foundation and launched in the UK in 2008. The aim was to help improve mental wellbeing through a balance of physical activity, connection, learning, acts of kindness and self-awareness.
The intention was to develop the mental health equivalent of “5 a day”. This well-known and popular message encourages you to eat five portions of fruit and veg a day to maintain good physical health.
The 5 ways to wellbeing encourage 5 kinds of behaviour to maintain good mental health.
Being physically active is not simply good for your health and fitness, it improves your mental wellbeing too. Being active does not mean you have to hit the gym 7 days a week, there are plenty of ways to stay active whilst enjoying life. Go for a walk, take the stairs not the lift, do some gardening. Most importantly, find an activity you enjoy and that suits your level of mobility and fitness. Set yourself goals and challenge yourself to achieve them.
Good relationships help you build a sense of belonging, give you an opportunity to share positive experiences and feel valued by others. Try to connect with the people around you, family, friends, colleagues and neighbours. Building varied social connections will increase your feelings of happiness and self-worth. Remember, every friend started out as someone you didn’t know, so try to say “hello” to someone new every day.
Learning new skills will boost your confidence, give you a sense of purpose and help you to connect with others. You do not have to enrol in college or sit exams, there are lots of other ways to bring learning into your life. Rediscover an old interest, cook a new recipe, do some DIY or try a new hobby. Set a challenge you will enjoy and try to step outside of your comfort zone. Above all, have fun!
Acts of giving and kindness create positive feelings and help connect people together. Even small acts of kindness towards others make a huge difference. Saying thank you, asking a friend or relative how they are and really listening to the answer, spending time with people in need of support. Taking time to understand and share the feelings of another person is incredibly rewarding and creates connections with the people around you.
Happiness is often right in front of your eyes if you take the time to notice. Slow down, find time for yourself and be aware of the world around you and how you are feeling. Self-awareness can help you enjoy life more and understand yourself better. Reflecting on your experiences will help you appreciate and focus on what really matters.
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