Five ways to wellbeing

Need urgent support? Get help from a crisis service >

Evidence suggests there are five steps you can take to improve your mental health and wellbeing. Trying these things could help you feel more positive and able to get the most out of life.

The five ways are:

  • Connect
  • Be active
  • Take notice
  • Keep learning
  • Give

Here are some ideas and suggestions about how you can introduce the five ways to wellbeing into your everyday routine.

Connect

Good relationships are important for your mental wellbeing. Connecting with the people around us is a great way to remind ourselves that we’re important and valued by others.

Connecting with others can:

  • help you to build a sense of belonging and self-worth
  • give you an opportunity to share positive experiences
  • provide emotional support and allow you to support others

Here are some suggestions for connecting:

  • ask how someone’s weekend was and really listen when they tell you.
  • put five minutes aside to find out how someone really is.
  • arrange to meet people regularly - maybe try monthly dinner dates with friends or join a local interest group
  • reach out to somebody you’ve lost contact with, for example, send them a letter or give them a call to let them know you are thinking about them
  • take some time to get to know your neighbours by inviting them around for a cup of tea

Be active

We know that there’s a link between staying active and positive mental health and wellbeing. Being physically active causes chemical changes in your brain which can help to positively change your mood.

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.

By regularly engaging in some form of exercise we can look after our mental and physical health at the same time. But do not feel that you have to spend hours in a gym. It's best to find activities you enjoy and make them apart of your life.

Here are some ways to become more active:

  • go for a walk at lunchtime
  • try some yoga or pilates at home
  • walk instead of taking the bus or get off a stop earlier
  • meet up with a friend for an exercise class
  • join a local sports club - is there a sport you have always wanted to try?

Take Notice

Paying more attention to the present moment can improve your mental wellbeing. This includes your thoughts and feelings, your body and the world around you.

Some people call this awareness "mindfulness". Mindfulness can help you enjoy life more and understand yourself better. It can positively change the way you feel about life and how you approach challenges. Taking notice of things we’re grateful for, big or small, is a great way to boost our mood and appreciate our surroundings.

Here are some suggestions around taking notice:

  • take up a mindful hobby like knitting or journaling
  • write down three things in your life you feel grateful for
  • allocate time in the evening to reflect on what went well that day
  • have a ‘clear the clutter’ day
  • take care of a houseplant

Keep learning

Research shows that learning new skills can also improve your mental wellbeing by:

  • boosting self-confidence and raising self-esteem
  • helping you to build a sense of purpose
  • helping you to connect with others

There are lots of different ways to bring learning into your life. Here are some ideas to keep learning:

  • try out new a new hobby, such as writing a blog, taking up a new sport or learning to paint
  • learn a new recipe and cook it with a partner, friend or family member.
  • join a class to learn a new language or musical instrument
  • learn something new about the people around you
  • read a book
  • do a crossword or Sudoku

Give

Research suggests that acts of giving and kindness can help improve your mental wellbeing by:

  • creating positive feelings and a sense of reward
  • giving you a feeling of purpose and self-worth
  • helping you connect with other people

It could be small acts of kindness towards other people, or larger ones like volunteering in your local community.

Some examples of the things you could try include:

  • saying thank you to someone for something they have done for you
  • asking friends, family or colleagues how they are and really listening to their answer
  • recycle your waste and give back to the environment
  • spending time with friends or relatives who need support or company
  • offering to help someone you know with DIY or a work project
  • volunteering in your community, such as helping at a school, hospital or care home