Five ways to mental wellbeing
Mental illness is common; one in four adults will experience some form of mental ill health in their lifetime with depression and anxiety being the most common. However, mental wellbeing is not simply the absence of mental illness. It is much more involved and is about living in a way which is good for you and good for others around you.
It has been defined as:
"A positive state of mind and body, feeling safe and able to cope, with a sense of connection with people, communities and the wider environment".
It has long been recognised that physical and mental health are linked. Good mental wellbeing is associated with longer life, better physical health, improved social interactions, higher educational achievement, and better employment and productivity.
Mental wellbeing needs to be regarded as something you do rather than something you are. The more you put into life the more you are likely to get out.
There have been many studies over the past 20 years into mental wellbeing and recently evidence has suggested that there are five steps we can all take to improve our mental wellbeing. These are:
Good relationships are important. This includes relationships with our family, friends, colleagues and neighbours. Take time to invest in these relationships as the evidence suggests that those who have strong connections with those around them are happier. Simple steps can help. For example:
•Make time to spend with your family. Switch off the TV and play a game or talk
•Arrange a socially distanced walk, picnic or video call with friends
•Speak to someone new
•Volunteer to help in your community.
2. Be Active
Evidence repeatedly tells us that physical activity is linked to mental wellbeing. Ideally adults should do 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week.
To find out what physical activities we recommend while maintaining social distancing, please visit our Staff Activities - At Home webpage.
3. Keep Learning
Continuing to learn throughout adult life has been associated with improved mental wellbeing. It can improve self-confidence, self-esteem and maintain a sense of hope and purpose. It can even instil a greater ability to cope with stress.
It doesn’t have to be in the context of a formal course or class, although of course these are great ways to learn new things and connect with people around you. Simple suggestions include:
• Learn to cook something new at home
• Visit a gallery or museum virtually
• Check out the courses in your local area
• Take up a new hobby or pick up an old one: why not join the Staff Book Group? The group are continuing to meet monthly through google meet - email group leader Karen Beck at email@example.com to be added to the session.
• You may wish to find out what learning and development opportunities are available in the workplace. Click here to visit the Develop, Manage, Lead webpages for more information.
4. Give to Others
Give to others in big or small ways. Helping others and working towards a shared goal can stimulate the reward areas in the brain and help generate positive feelings. Studies have shown that small acts of kindness are also associated with an improved sense of wellbeing.
Giving can include offering to go to the shops for your neighbour, phoning someone you know who needs support or company and even just thanking someone for something they have done for you.
5. Take Notice
‘Mindfulness’ can improve mental wellbeing. Take time to connect with all of your senses, notice how the world around you looks, feels, sounds, smells and tastes. This isn’t about changing the world around you but helping you to see the present more clearly.
As we start to improve our awareness of the present, we can start to train ourselves to notice patterns and recognise thoughts for what they are, ‘mental events’ that do not have to control us.
Mindfulness can be done anywhere but studies have shown that when used as part of Meditation and Yoga, can aid stress reduction and improve mood. The Staff Wellbeing Activity page has a section on meditiation, with videos that you can follow at home. Please view them here.
There are also some excellent free useful apps and local supports for this way to wellbeing, please find them in our Wellbeing Resources page, here.