Simple steps to mental wellbeing
Research tells us that there are FIVE simple steps that we can take that will help us to feel positive about ourselves and our lives. You will find information about them within these pages. Try them out and find your way to a happier, more positive you.
Sometimes we face more serious mental health challenges. This may result in a health worker diagnosing a mental illness that requires treatment. If you are worried about these more serious aspects of mental ill-health you can find out more here
Here you can find out about positive mental wellbeing – what this means and what we can all do to achieve it.
• Positive Mental Wellbeing
Mental wellbeing matters because we want to feel good about ourselves and we want to do as well as we can in the world.
We know that mental wellbeing and physical health are closely linked and each affects the other. When we feel mentally positive we are more likely to feel physically well too, and the other way around.
Positive mental wellbeing is more than just ‘happiness’. One common way to describe it is to say that we “are feeling good and doing well”.
Another word that is often used to describe people with positive mental wellbeing is that they are “resilient”. This highlights the fact that all of us face challenges at some time in our life or have periods when we feel unhappy due to things that have happened to us or to those we care for. But resilient people are able to bounce back more quickly and recover from these low periods.
People with positive mental wellbeing feel confident. They believe in themselves and in others so they usually think things will be OK in the end. Strong trusting relationships give people an effective support network to fall back on in harder times. The phrase “what goes around, comes around” captures part of this attitude –I can help someone today and when I need help there will be someone there for me too. This also shows how positive mental wellbeing comes from focusing on other’s needs as much as our own.
We know our physical health and our mental wellbeing are closely linked and looking after one will have benefits for both. It is important to understand that people with diagnosed illnesses (mental or physical) can still have positive mental wellbeing and this helps them manage their illness more effectively.
Wellbeing and wealth ….
Another important fact about mental wellbeing is that it does not wholly depend on money or material wealth. It is true that up to a certain point our mental wellbeing increases as our income does. But this is only up to a point, and that point is surprisingly low. In the UK our average income has increased quite dramatically over the past 50 years but our level of mental wellbeing has not. On the other hand we know that inequality is bad for our mental wellbeing. If we feel we are being treated unfairly, that our efforts are not rewarded like those of other people, this can undermine our sense of positive mental wellbeing.
Recently there has been a lot of research to discover what are the key things that support our mental wellbeing. The Foresight Report on Mental Capital in 2008 gathered a lot of this together. One result of this work was our understanding of the importance of the Five Ways to Wellbeing. These are five areas of life where we can take simple steps that have been proven to have an impact on our mental wellbeing.
It is time that we gave as much attention to our mental wellbeing as we do to our physical health and lifestyle choices such as smoking, alcohol consumption, healthy eating and physical activity. In fact we are much more likely to gain the benefit of changing these lifestyle habits if we also make sure that we continue to feel good and do well.
Listed below are the five simple areas of our lives where we can make changes that will help us to feel better. Follow each link to find out more about each one.
Remember if you build these into your plan for change you may have a better chance of success.
- Connect more
Connect with the people around you: your family, friends, colleagues and neighbors. Spend time developing these relationships. Learn more in Connect more and feel better.
- Get active
You don't have to go to the gym. Take a walk, go cycling or play a game of football. Find the activity that you enjoy, and make it a part of your life. Learn more in Get active and feel better.
- Learn something new
Learning new skills can give you a sense of achievement and a new confidence. So why not sign up for that cooking course, start learning to play a musical instrument, or figure out how to fix your bike? Find out more in Learn something new and feel better.
- Give something back
Even the smallest act can count, whether it's a smile, a thank you or a kind word. Larger acts, such as volunteering at your local community centre, can improve your mental wellbeing and help you build new social networks. Learn more in Give something back and feel better.
- Take time to reflect
Be more aware of the present moment, including your feelings and thoughts, your body and the world around you. Learn more in Take time to reflect and feel better.