Five Ways to Wellbeing
Have you heard of the Five Ways to Wellbeing? These are a set of evidence-based steps, developed by the New Economics Foundation, to promote healthy wellbeing.
At a time where our daily lives have changed so much and we face many new challenges, it is important to make time to look after our physical and mental health.
Picking up the phone or sending a text to a friend or family member can give your mood an instant lift. It doesn’t have to be about your state of mind or how you feel, it could be something as simple as chatting about a TV show, sharing lunch ideas or asking where your loved one went on their daily walk.
Connecting with people is what humans do best. Talking and especially laughing, releases endorphins, a natural feel-good chemical that promotes an overall sense of happiness and wellbeing.
The government has now advised that we can meet with one person from another household as long as we remain two metres apart. Use this opportunity to connect with your friends and family and get some exercise at the same time by going for a walk in the park.
If you can’t make it out of the house, connect with your loved ones via a video call. Seeing children, parents and even pets can boost your mood and have a really positive impact on your mental wellbeing.
As well as your physical health, being active can also have a positive impact on your mental wellbeing.
When we exercise, we use up energy and increase blood flow and oxygen around our bodies. This in turn, strengthens our muscles, keeps our heart healthy and improves our joints.
Physical exercise makes us feel good about ourselves, gives us confidence and improves our mood and alertness.
Being active doesn’t have to be a chore. Equally, for those people that thrive on exercise, we don’t need to overwork ourselves. If you have a disability or long-term health condition, find out about getting active with a disability.
Finding a happy balance will have a positive impact on both your physical and mental health.
There are different ways to stay active, depending on how old you are:
- early childhood (under 5 years old)
- young people (5 to 18 years old)
- adults (19-64)
- older adults (65 and over)
The NHS recommends 30 minutes of exercise a day for adults and 60 minutes for children. This can be anything that raises your heart rate from walking, jogging and cycling through to running, swimming and sports. See some tips to keep kids active.
For example, could lockdown be the excuse to help you start your Couch to 5k journey?
Learn new skills
Londoners are busy people, always on the go. There is often limited time to learn a new skill or hobby while balancing work, childcare and hectic social lives.
Being in lockdown provides an opportunity to devote some time to ourselves. Many people in the UK have taken up baking as a new skill or signed up to online learning courses (often available free).
Why not use this time to learn new skills such as cooking, speaking a different language, first aid or even DIY around the house? It’s about what best fits your needs. Learning a new skill can help you connect with new people and learn from each other. If you’re juggling a job while home-schooling your children, be kind to yourself. Learning new skills could be as simple as trying a new recipe!
Give to others
How good does it feel when you receive a compliment from a friend or gift from your loved ones? Why not give somebody else that feeling, especially at a time when there are many people in need of help and kindness in the city.
You could send a card to a friend living alone, or a bunch of flowers to someone celebrating their birthday. Or, you could sit down and write a handwritten letter for an elderly relative or neighbour.
These acts of kindness will not only create positive feelings but can also help with your mental wellbeing.
The act of giving doesn’t always have to be a physical thing. Giving your time can mean so much more to people and really help them deal with challenges they may be struggling with.
Mental ill-health affects people in different ways, especially during a time of upheaval and economic uncertainty. Giving your time to listen to someone talk about their feelings or even going to the supermarket to buy essential food items for a neighbour will have a profound effect on both of your mental health and wellbeing.
London is a fast-paced city full of people, culture and tourism. It can sometimes be easier to keep your head down and weave through the crowds to get from one place to the next. However, doing this means you often miss out on the things around you.
Being mindful of the present moment both in terms of what is happening in front of you and how you feel can have a really positive impact on your mental health.
Taking a different route on your daily walk, for example, could help you uncover something new in your neighbourhood. It might be a community garden, a book exchange box or the perfect spot to watch the sun set. These new discoveries can instil a fresh sense of pride in your area and place a smile on your face.
We have collated some resources to help you:
Children and young people
- The Mindfulness in Schools project provides information and resources to learn, teach and use mindfulness.
- Have a look at these videos to find out how to focus your attention and relax.
- Don’t forget to try these 10 mindfulness exercises and this sleep meditation podcast for children.
- Watch this short mindful breathing exercise video on YouTube from Every Mind Matters.
- You can also try Be Mindful, an online course for reducing stress, anxiety and depression.
- Other useful resources for adults include:
- How to cope when the news makes you feel stressed
- 5 easy ways to bring mindfulness into your daily routine
- Mindfulness tips for working from home
As we continue to face a new way of life with physical distancing and limited time outdoors, it’s more important than ever to keep our minds and bodies active. If you or someone you know are struggling with mental ill-health, see how the South East London Clinical Commissioning Group can provide support.