It’s Wellbeing Week, a new fundraising initiative created by the Mental Health Foundation to help provide young people with the tools and knowledge to help manage their mental health. World Wellbeing Week takes a closer look at the 5 ways of Wellbeing, which are Connect, Get Active, Be Mindful, Keep Learning, Give to Others.
The team at Naked Biotics want to help promote and spread awareness for the many different aspects of wellbeing, whether that be physical, emotional or social to name a few. In this blog, we will take a closer look at how we can tap into the 5 ways of wellbeing, as well as why they are so important for our mental health.
What do we mean by mental wellbeing?
Mental wellbeing doesn't have just one set meaning and will be felt and interpreted differently from person to person. In the Oxford English Dictionary, wellbeing is described as "the state of being comfortable, healthy, or happy" however, it’s important to remember that wellbeing is more than just a feeling of happiness and while happiness plays a big part in this, there are many other factors that play a key role in our overall wellbeing. Our wellbeing affects how we think and feel, as well as how we cope with the ups and downs of life. As we move through different stages of life and are confronted with different situations, our mental wellbeing can change too. Having good mental wellbeing also does not mean that you will never experience feelings or situations that you find difficult. What it does mean, is that you may more likely feel you have the resilience to cope better when times are tough.
Major types of wellbeing
So how can we support our wellbeing? As mentioned earlier in the blog, the Mental Health Foundation has categorised 5 ways of wellbeing. So let’s delve into each one to understand how they can help our overall wellbeing.
As humans, we crave connection. Extensive evidence shows that there is so much power in holding good-quality relationships and connections. These studies show deep connections with other people can help us to live both longer and happier lives with fewer mental health problems. During the pandemic especially, the lack of physical touch and social connection really became a mental battle for a lot of people, impacting their mental health and wellbeing altogether. This difficult time has brought to light even more just how important regular human connection is. The Mental health Foundation explains in one of their articles that “loneliness and isolation remain the key predictors for poor psychological and physical health. Having a lack of good relationships and long-term feelings of loneliness have been shown by a range of studies to be associated with higher rates of mortality, poor physical health outcomes and lower life satisfaction.” This shows just how key these connections are. Whether you’re able to be with someone physically, or through the use of the amazing technology we have access to, try to bring in those touch points with people in your life. The positive impact is huge and, as we’ve spoken about in more recent blogs, when we feel better mentally, this is mirrored in how we feel physically.
- Get Active
It’s no secret that being active has huge benefits, especially when it comes to enhancing our wellbeing. Whether it be a 45 minute HIIT session, or a brisk 10 minute walk, moving and being active can help to increase our mental alertness, energy levels, help reduce anxiety and stress and also boost our mood. Sometimes the hardest thing can be that initial motivation, so if you’re finding yourself in a slump and you’re coming up with a million and one excuses why you shouldn’t get up and move (we all do it, let’s be honest), try and focus on how amazing you will feel afterwards. Think of the amazing benefits and good you are doing for yourself. If our bodies are working well, our minds are more likely to be working well too – likewise, if our minds are working well, our physical bodies are more likely to function better as well. It’s a win win. So whether you decide to go for a small walk, a bike ride, dance in your front room or even take up gardening, whatever it is you decide to do, remember your body and mind will thank you for it and you will feel amazing after - use that as your fuel.
- Be Mindful
I’m sure we’ve all seen the word ‘mindfulness’ appear time and time again, especially recently. But what is it and what does it mean? Mindfulness is a way of paying attention to what is going on in the present moment through the use of different techniques, including meditation, breathing exercises and even yoga. These techniques are a great way to help us become more aware of how we’re feeling, our thoughts and anything that we may be experiencing. It’s a good way of slowing down and really taking a moment to check-in with ourselves. In the hustle and bustle of life, this can be a difficult thing to remember to do, which is why being mindful is so powerful in helping our mental wellbeing. Using mindfulness in your day to day is a great way to help reduce stress and anxiety, lower your blood pressure and heart rate, as well as help higher your brain function and focus. We must sound like a broken record, but as we said in one of our previous blogs, if your mind is happy, your gut is happy which means your body is happy. Everything is interlinked and plays such a crucial role in supporting a happy and healthy mental wellbeing. If you’re new to mindfulness, the CALM app and Headspace have amazing guided sessions that even include free versions so you can take the time to see whether it’s for you.
- Keep learning
Research shows that learning new skills can help to improve your mental wellbeing by boosting self-confidence and raising self-esteem, helping you to build a sense of purpose, and also helping you to connect with others. Now don’t panic, this doesn’t mean you now need to sign-up for 5 different courses in areas that don’t interest you, but instead, it’s best to find activities that you enjoy which you can make a part of your life. What’s the one thing you’ve always wanted to give a go? Is there something you’ve always wanted to learn about, but never did? This is your chance to do that thing. Maybe there’s a DIY project you have in mind, or you’ve always wanted to boost your cooking skills (maybe you’ll be the next Jamie Oliver, who knows?) Whatever your heart desires, go for it. Your happiness and wellbeing will thank you for it.
- Give to others
I think most people would agree that giving to others is a wonderful thing and shows a sense of kindness, support and empathy. However, acts of kindness actually go a lot deeper than that, with multiple studies showing that giving to others can have a positive effect on your own mental wellbeing. Helping others also allows us to strengthen our connections, which, as we know from point one, plays an important part in our wellbeing and our happiness. So here is your reminder to give to someone else today, that might be helping a friend, a family member or a stranger, or volunteering somewhere. There are many ways in which you can give to others, but keep in mind why you’re doing it. Part of giving back is taking into account the person on the opposite side, so it’s important to make sure the acts of kindness are for their benefit, not ours.
Your wellbeing is important
Our perception and our ability to observe our thoughts and feelings is what makes us human and separates us from other creatures. But increasing our wellbeing is not always easy and sometimes sounds a lot simpler on paper, than it actually is putting it into practice. Look at the areas of wellbeing we’ve spoken about in this blog and what feels most important to you. It may be that you set a focus on one or two areas and build up, but don’t put too much pressure on yourself and take it at a pace that feels right for you. Remember it takes time and effort to build any new skill set — that also includes wellbeing skills. It's important to be realistic with yourself about what your expectations are, so small actions everyday can help add up to big improvements over time.