It's world mental health day on October 10th, so we have teamed up with Key 103 to let you know about ways to look after your wellbeing and provide information about where to go for help and support with mental ill health.
Five Ways to Wellbeing
We all know how important it is to look after our physical health in order to stay fit and well. Taking care of our mental wellbeing is just as important.
The concept of wellbeing comprises two main elements: feeling good and functioning well. Feelings of happiness, contentment, enjoyment, curiosity and engagement are characteristic of someone who has a positive experience of their life. Equally important for wellbeing is our functioning in the world. Experiencing positive relationships, having some control over one’s life and having a sense of purpose are all important attributes of wellbeing.
The New Economics Foundation have identified five ways we can take care of our mental wellbeing:
Connect with the people around you. With family, friends, colleagues and neighbours. At home, work, school or in your local community. Think of these as the corner of your life and invest time in developing them. Building these connections will support and enrich you every day.
Social relationships are critical to our wellbeing. Survey research has found that wellbeing is increased by life goals associated with family, friends, social and political life and decreased by goals associated with career success and material gains.
Go for a walk or a run. Step outside. Cycle. Play a game. Garden. Dance. Exercising makes you feel good. Most importantly, discover a physical activity you enjoy and one that suits your level of mobility and fitness.
Exercise has been shown to increase mood and has been used successfully to lower rates of depression and anxiety.
Be curious. Catch sight of the beautiful. Remark on the usual. Notice the changing seasons. Savour the moment, whether you are walking to work, eating lunch or talking to friends. Be aware of the world around you and what you are feeling. Reflecting on your experiences will help you appreciate what matters to you.
In the US, research has shown that practising awareness of sensations, thoughts and feelings can improve both the knowledge we have about ourselves and our wellbeing.
Try something new. Rediscover an old interest. Sign up for that course. Take on a different responsibility at work. Fix a bike. Learn to play an instrument or how to cook your favourite food. Set a challenge you will enjoy achieving. Learning new things will make you more confident as well as being fun.
Learning encourages social interaction and increases self-esteem and feelings of competency. Behaviour directed by personal goals to achieve something new has been shown to increase reported life satisfaction.
Do something nice for a friend, or a stranger. Thank someone. Smile. Volunteer your time. Join a community group. Look out, as well as in. Seeing yourself, and your happiness, linked to the wider community can be incredibly rewarding and creates connections with the people around you.
Studies in neuroscience have shown that cooperative behaviour activates reward areas of the brain, suggesting we are hard wired to enjoy helping one another. Individuals actively engaged in their communities report higher well-being and their help and gestures have knock-on effects for others.