When the going gets tough, our mental health can be one of the first things to suffer. And because life’s challenges can strike at any time, it pays to be in the habit of nurturing our mental wellbeing, so that we’re better able to cope in the difficult times.
Across the mental health sector internationally, there is general agreement that there are five steps we can take to improve our mental health and wellbeing. Here, we share The Five Ways to Wellbeing and some suggestions for how you can incorporate them in your life and at work. Chat these through with colleagues and see what other ideas you can add!
Step 1 – Connect
Connecting with others can help us feel close to people and valued for who we are. Being social means different things for different people, and that’s OK. You might like being with people one-on-one, or you might like being in big groups. You might prefer to connect with people online or chat on the phone. Try out new ways of connecting to see what feels right for you.
Step 2 – Be active
Physical activity is well known to help us in a multitude of ways, such as sleeping better, feeling more positive, focusing more clearly, and reducing feelings of stress and anxiety – all of which support positive mental health. We don’t have to run marathons or train at the gym every day (unless that’s what you love to do, of course); there are lots of things we can do to start being more active.
Step 3 - Take notice
Paying attention to the present moment (also known as mindfulness, and ‘being in the moment’) can help us improve our mental wellbeing and enjoy life more. Being aware of our thoughts and feelings, our body, and what’s going on in and around us, can help us to understand what makes us feel good, and what triggers feelings of stress or anxiety. Intentionally doing the things that make us feel good and ‘savouring the moment’ can also help us to feel more positive about life in general.
Step 4 - Keep learning
We're always learning new things, sometimes without even realising. Feeling like we’re learning, developing and growing can boost our self-esteem. Similarly, setting goals (and persisting until we achieve them) can help us to feel more productive and more in control of our life.
Step 5 - Give
There's been lots of research about the effects of taking part in social and community life, and studies often show that people who help others are more likely to rate themselves as happy. Is there anything you can do today to be kind or helpful to someone else?