Introducing the Five Ways to Mental Wellbeing and how implementing them can support good mental health.

Are you familiar with this wellbeing initiative? You may have seen us feature the Five Ways to Mental Wellbeing on social media this month, or already be familiar with this concept. Either way, we hope this blog will be informative.

The Five Ways to Wellbeing were developed by the New Economics Foundation (NEF) and commissioned by Foresight (the UK Government’s think tank on Wellbeing) to provide the UK population with methods to support and improve their wellbeing. Introduced over 10 years ago, the Five Ways to Mental Wellbeing are evidence-based, practical and attainable methods to promote mental wellbeing.  Still regarded as effective, the Five Ways: Connect, Be Active, Keep Learning, Give and Take Notice, singularly and collectively, are designed to be easily incorporated into your everyday routine, and at a level to suit your ability.  

Here’s how and why the Five Ways are good for mental health and some ideas on how to implement each one:

1. Connect with other people

Good relationships are important for good mental wellbeing. They can help to build a sense of belonging and self-worth and remind us that we are important to and valued by others.  Connecting with others can give you an opportunity to share positive experiences, provide emotional support and allow you to support others.

Ways to connect with others: 

  • Make time to be with the people you care about
  • Actively engage in conversation – really listen to what the other person is saying 
  • Arrange a day out with friends you have not seen for a while
  • Keeping in touch via technology is good, but also make time to switch off from social media as this helps to build on relationships in person, and reduces the risk of feeling isolated

“Connect with the people around you. Invest time and build these connections as they will help to support and enrich you every day.” MHFA England

2. Be physically active

Being active is not only great for physical health and fitness. Most of us have experienced the feel-good factor when participating in physical activity. Evidence shows it can also improve your mental wellbeing by raising self-esteem, helping you to set goals or challenges and achieve them, and causing chemical changes in your brain which can help to positively change your mood.  Regular physical activity is associated with lower rates of depression and anxiety across all age groups. 

The good news is the activity doesn’t need to be particularly intense for you to feel good! 

Ways to get active: 

  • Go for a walk – early morning or at lunchtime
  • Take the stairs instead of the lift
  • Incorporate stretches into your day
  • Try different forms of exercise – sports, dancing, cycling, badminton
  • Sign up for a charity event – it doesn’t have to be too challenging, and you’ll be giving and connecting (and possibly learning a new skill) at the same time!

3. Learn new skills

Learning a new skill can also help to improve your mental wellbeing; by boosting self-confidence, raising self-esteem and giving you a sense of achievement.  Research shows that it can also help you to build a sense of purpose and help you to connect with others.  Learning a new skill is valuable for stimulating your brain and focussing your mind. Again, this doesn’t have to mean embarking on a part-time degree in languages (unless that is a challenge you will enjoy!) 

Ways to learn a new skill:

  • Try a new hobby – sign up to an evening class to meet like-minded people too
  • Be creative or do something that interests you
  • Write a blog
  • Take up learning a musical instrument
  • Join a choir
  • Try a new recipe

4. Give to others

Research shows that acts of giving and kindness can boost mental wellbeing: creating positive feelings and a sense of reward, giving you a feeling of purpose and self-worth and helping you connect with other people.  Even small acts of kindness towards other people can be uplifting.  

Ways of giving: 

  • Say thank you, to show someone you appreciate something they have done for you
  • Ask friends, family or colleagues how they are, and really listen to their answer
  • Spend time with friends or relatives who need support or company
  • Offer to help someone you know with a task
  • Volunteer in your community

“Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.” Mother Teresa

5. Take Notice

Paying more attention to the present moment, being mindful, can help to improve your mental health. Mindfulness can help you enjoy life more and understand yourself better. It can positively change the way you feel about life and how you approach challenges, nurturing a positive mindset. It can take time and practice to be more mindful, these are our suggestions.

Ways to be mindful:

  • Take notice of things around you – sights, sounds and smell, touch
  • Take time to appreciate the small things 
  • Enjoy being ‘in the moment’, be aware of your thoughts, emotions and surroundings 
  • Allocate time in the day to write a journal to reflect on your experiences
  • Write down things you feel grateful for
  • Be mindful when doing daily activities (e.g. eating a meal, going for a walk)

“If you miss the present moment, you miss your appointment with life. It’s so clear. Mindfulness is the energy and practice that helps you go back to the here and now so that you encounter life.” Thich Nhat Hanh 

You may notice how some of the activities (and their benefits) overlap, demonstrating how the Five Ways can work together to support wellbeing. Small steps with achievable activities can make a positive impact on Wellbeing.  Has this inspired you to evaluate your own wellbeing practices? 

Why not take time today to write down one thing that you will do for your own mental wellbeing? 

  • Connect:  How will I connect more with other people?
  • Be Active:  How can I be more physically active?
  • Keep Learning:  What new skill could I learn?
  • Give:  How can I give to others?
  • Take Notice:  When could I be more mindful?

Let us know how you get on: connect on Linked In here

Several Mental Health and well-being organisations support the NEF’s Five Ways to Mental Wellbeing and their links are shown below. Find out more about our services, including On-Site Massage to support your the mental health of your employees get in touch here

Image credit: Lauren Wilson, Pink Pebble Digital, Graphic design credit: Sophia Saunders

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