Having good mental health, or being mentally healthy, is more than just the absence of illness; it’s a state of overall wellbeing. The World Health Organization defines mental health as “a state of well-being in which every individual realises his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.”
Everyone is different and while there is no single best approach for improving or staying mentally well. Recent evidence suggests there are five main ways[i] you can play an active role in improving, protecting and maintaining your wellbeing.
The Five Ways to Wellbeing are:
- Keep Learning
- Be Active
- Take Notice
Creating connections with others is a fundamental human need. This includes relationships with family, friends, work colleagues, neighbours and acquaintances in all areas of life. Taking the time to both broaden and strengthen relationships is the key to harnessing this aspect of wellbeing every day.
They say we learn something new every day, and science tells us this sentiment is important for our wellbeing. Whether it’s signing up for a new hobby, rediscovering something you used to love or taking a development opportunity at work, learning new things boosts your confidence and in turn is great for your wellbeing. Education can sometimes feel a bit unsettling because it’s outside our comfort zone, but you don’t need to focus on formal learning like completing a course. You can also watch a YouTube video, attend a talk or read a book to learn something new too.
Physical activity is vital for positive wellbeing, whether it’s walking, running, cycling, playing sports, gardening, dancing or another activity that gets you moving. Importantly, finding the things you enjoy – and doing those activities regularly – is the best thing for your wellbeing. There are many ways to be active, so pick what works best for you.
When we’re busy it can be easy to rush through the day without paying attention to the little things. Mindfulness is about being in the moment – noticing things around you, being aware of your emotions, and reflecting on your experiences. This enables you to be aware of your priorities and savour the things you truly enjoy.
Helping others doesn’t just benefit them, it’s also really good for us too. Considering and acting positively towards others links you to your community and rewards you with a stronger sense of wellbeing. You can do this formally, though a volunteering opportunity, or informally through daily interactions with others. The great thing about giving is that it’s also a multiplier: the people we give to are more likely to give back to us, and to others.
What are the benefits of self-care?
Undertaking self-care activities and behaviours and looking after yourself has many benefits and here are a few:
If you want to check-in on your wellbeing, get tips on managing your mental health and/or make your own self-care action plan try SuperFriend’s free 15 minute training module .
[i] The Five Ways to Wellbeing was developed by the New Economics Foundation for the UK government, and is based on extensive research and evidence about protective factors for psychological and emotional wellbeing at an individual level.