What do we mean by ‘wellbeing’? This broad concept is generally understood to include two main elements – feeling good and functioning well. When people are functioning well in their interactions with the world, they tend to experience positive emotions as a result.
Our mental wellbeing underpins our everyday functioning and quality of life. We seem to have a general awareness of how we are feeling, but there are times where we may need further support and direction on how we can boost our general wellbeing.
There is no denying that the cyclical nature of lockdown and restrictions on social interaction have already had marked effects on people’s mental health and wellbeing. Under what we would consider as ‘normal’ circumstances, around one in four people will experience a mental health problem at some point in their life; with this in mind, as we begin to approach a second year of the COVID-19 pandemic, improving the population’s mental wellbeing has never been more important.
Are you getting your ‘five-a-day’?
Just as we are advised to eat ‘five a day’ of fruit and vegetables to improve our physical health, there are also five ways of keeping our mental health in check. You will probably be doing most of these activities already, but it’s worth noting what more you can do to strengthen and sustain these lifestyle behaviours.
The ‘Five Ways to Wellbeing’ framework (developed by New Economics Foundation) provides a set of evidence-based actions to help improve people’s wellbeing, boost self-esteem, as well as giving a feeling of purpose and self-worth. These 5 actions are:
- Connect with the people around you (albeit virtually) – strengthening relationships with family, friends and colleagues
- Give to others – small acts of kindness for a friend or stranger, offering help or saying thank you
- Be physically active – exercising and setting goals/challenges
- Keep learning – discovering new skills, projects and hobbies
- Take notice – mindfulness and reflection
Even though home has become the office and playground for many of us, technology has allowed us to remain connected with others. Phone calls, video calls and messaging are a few ways that people can socialise and maintain healthy relationships with friends and family. Activities that promote wellbeing may also involve making small changes to health-related behaviours such as quitting smoking, doing more exercise, taking regular breaks, consuming less alcohol and eating a more balanced diet.
There is a clear link between wellbeing and health; as well as adding years to your life, higher levels of wellbeing can lead to better cardiovascular health, improved recovery from illness and slower disease progression, all the while having a positive influence on the mental wellbeing of those close to us.
There are plenty of specialist services and ports of call available remotely to access free advice, information and support for those who need it. Further details can be found here or via our marketplace.