Let’s talk about Well-being. This is a topic that I am very passionate about. As a counsellor and well-being consultant, I am often encouraging people to think about their mental health and well-being and take steps to improve it. I also make a conscious effort to look after my own well-being too. Taking care of your well-being doesn’t have to be time consuming, or expensive. I’m not talking about dessert island holidays or posh spa breaks. It can be small simple things that make a big difference.
If we are feeling down, anxious, stressed or like we have too much on our plate, the first thing to go out of the window can be self-care or the things we enjoy. This can turn into a vicious circle that has a detrimental impact on our well-being.
An easy way to think about wellbeing is to look at the Five Ways to Well-being. This is a government initiative based on research into what improves our well-being. The five ways they came up with are: Connect, Be Active, Take Notice, Learn and Give. Let me explain some more:
There is strong evidence that indicates that feeling close to other people is a fundamental human need and one that contributes to functioning well in the world. It’s clear that social relationships are critical for promoting wellbeing and for acting as a buffer against mental ill health for people of all ages.
Regular physical activity is associated with lower rates of depression and anxiety across all age groups. Exercise is essential for slowing age-related cognitive decline and for promoting well-being. But it doesn’t need to be particularly intense for you to feel good – slower-paced activities, such as walking, can have the benefit of encouraging social interactions as well providing some level of exercise.
Reminding yourself to ‘take notice’ can strengthen and broaden awareness. Studies have shown that being aware of what is taking place in the present directly enhances your well-being and savoring ‘the moment’ can help to reaffirm your life priorities. Heightened awareness also enhances your self-understanding and allows you to make positive choices based on your own values and motivations.
Continued learning through life enhances self-esteem and encourages social interaction and a more active life. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the opportunity to engage in work or educational activities particularly helps to lift older people out of depression. The practice of setting goals, which is related to adult learning in particular, has been strongly associated with higher levels of well-being.
Participation in social and community life has attracted a lot of attention in the field of well-being research. Individuals who report a greater interest in helping others are more likely to rate themselves as happy. Research into actions for promoting happiness has shown that committing an act of kindness once a week over a six-week period is associated with an increase in well-being.
Try taking two minutes out of your day to look at these areas and see what you already do that is good for your well-being. You could also see if there are any areas that you would like to do more in to improve it further. Good Luck!