Five Ways to Wellbeing
Updated: Feb 3, 2021
The concept of wellbeing consists of two main elements: feeling good and functioning well. Feelings of happiness, contentment, enjoyment, curiosity and engagement are characteristic of someone who has a positive experience of their life. Equally important for wellbeing is our functioning in the world. Experiencing positive relationships, having some control over your life and having a sense of purpose are all important attributes of wellbeing.
Five Ways to Wellbeing is a set of public health messages aimed at improving the wellbeing and mental health of the whole population. Research shows that these five ways can boost wellbeing. The actions are evidence-based and were developed by the New Economics Foundation in 2008. They are used in a wide variety of different organisations, including Universities and workplaces.
At the Student Wellbeing Service, Five Ways to Wellbeing informs our approach to organising wellbeing events, providing information and delivering seminars and training. At different times of the academic year, we may focus on one or more of these Five Ways to Wellbeing to help you to improve and maintain your wellbeing:
Talk & listen, be there, feel connected.
Connecting is about strengthening relationships with others.
There is strong evidence that indicates that feeling close to and valued by, 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.
With this in mind, try to do something different today and make a connection:
Talk to someone instead of sending an email
Speak to someone new
Ask how someone’s weekend was and really listen when they tell you
Put five minutes aside to find out how someone really is
Give a colleague a lift to work or share the journey home with them.
Do what you can, enjoy what you do, move your mood.
Being physically active improves physical health, improves mood and wellbeing.
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 as providing some level of exercise.
Today, why not get physical? Here are a few ideas:
Take the stairs not the lift
Go for a walk at lunchtime
Walk into work - perhaps with a colleague – so you can ‘connect’ as well
Get off the bus one stop earlier than usual and walk the final part of your journey to work
Organise a work sporting activity
Have a kick-about in a local park
Do some ‘easy exercise’, like stretching, before you leave for work in the morning
Walk to someone’s desk instead of calling or emailing.
Remember the simple things that give you joy.
Paying more attention to the present, to thoughts, feelings and the world around helps boost our wellbeing.
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 savouring ‘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.
Take some time to enjoy the moment and the environment around you. Here are a few ideas:
Get a plant for your workspace
Have a ‘clear the clutter’ day
Take notice of how your colleagues are feeling or acting
Take a different route on your journey to or from work
Visit a new place for lunch.
Your time, your words, your presence.
Carrying out acts of kindness can improve happiness, life satisfaction and sense of wellbeing.
Participation in social and community life has attracted a lot of attention in the field of wellbeing 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 wellbeing.
Embrace new experiences, see opportunities, surprise yourself.
Being curious and seeking new experiences in life positively stimulates the brain.
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 wellbeing.
Why not learn something new today? Here are a few more ideas:
Find out something about your colleagues
Sign up for a class
Read the news or a book
Set up a book club
Do a crossword or Sudoku
Research something you’ve always wondered about
Learn a new word.
Have a look at the following video, its a couple of minutes long and easily explains how we can all look after our wellbeing in five easy steps:
David Barrand & Jayne Tulip
Student Wellbeing Advisors - Faculty of Social Sciences