Sunday 7th April 2019 is World Health Day, and one of the key messages from this year’s campaign is maintaining wellbeing. The Five Ways to Wellbeing are a set of evidence-based public mental health messages aimed at improving the mental health and wellbeing of the whole population. Evidence suggests that a small improvement in wellbeing can help to decrease some mental health problems and also help people to flourish. The five ways to wellbeing are:

  • Connect
  • Be Active
  • Take Notice
  • Keep Learning
  • Give

Three friends sit chatting and laughing on a wall.Connect with the people around you - family, friends, colleagues and neighbours. One aspect that many people with mental health issues face is social exclusion; they are excluded or feel excluded from society or their community. Recovery is strengthened by social interaction.
Try to connect with the people around you: your friends and family, your colleagues, and the people you see day to day. Spend time developing these relationships. Talk to a friend you've not seen in a while, in person or over the phone. You could even have a short conversation with the next person who serves you in a shop.
You can also connect with your inner self through mindfulness and meditation. There are various apps available that aim to enhance wellbeing by helping you to meditate, such as Headspace, Live Happy, Mindshift and Thought Diary Pro. 

Two women playing lacrosseBe Active. If exercise is not currently part of your daily routine, try adding it. Exercising two to three times a week has been found to significantly decrease symptoms of depression. Don’t think you have to go to the gym to be active - go for a walk, cycling or play a game of football, dance or even do a spot of gardening! Find an activity that you enjoy and make it a part of your life.

Take Notice. Be more aware of the present moment, including your thoughts and feelings, your body and the world around you. Some people call this awareness "mindfulness". It can positively change the way you feel about life and how you approach challenges. Notice the little things; listen to the sounds around you.

Learn. Continued learning throughout our life enhances self-esteem and encourages social interaction and a more active life. Evidence suggests that the opportunity to engage in work or educational activities helps to lift 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. You could try researching something online that you're curious about; do a crossword or Sudoku puzzle; or read a new book.

A woman smiles as she receives a large bunch of red flowersGive. 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. 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.