Sunday 7th April 2019 is World Health Day.  One of the key messages from this year’s campaign is maintaining wellbeing.

At its heart, primary health care is about caring for people and helping them improve their health or maintain their well-being, rather than just treating a single disease or condition (WHO, 2019).

To ensure we have good wellbeing and maintain good mental health, here are five steps that have been researched and developed by the New Economics Foundation.  

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 (New Economics Foundation).

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

Connect

With the people around you. With family, friends, colleagues and neighbours. One aspect that many people with mental health issues face is social exclusion.

Social inclusion is a key concept in the mental health recovery. Many people with mental health issues are excluded or feel excluded from society or their community. Recovery is strengthened by and strengthens social inclusion.

  • 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.
  • Have a short conversation with the next person who serves you.
  • Ring someone you haven’t spoken to for a while.

Connect with your inner self through mindfulness and meditation. Mindful Therapies Centres offer a comprehensive timetable of mindfulness and meditation sessions. There are apps available that aim to enhance wellbeing such as Headspace, Live Happy, Mindshift and Thought Diary Pro.

Be Active 

Regular exercise, 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 (Mental Health Foundation 2017).

Go for a run or a walk. Don’t think you have to go to the gym to be active, go cycling or play a game of football, dance or even a spot of gardening now it’s finally spring! Find an activity that you enjoy and make it a part of your life.

Take Notice

Take Notice - Be mindful – 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
  • Clear the clutter
  • Notice speech and body language
  • Travel to new places

Learn

Continued learning through 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 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.

  • Find out something
  • Do a crossword/ Sudoku puzzle
  • Read
  • Look up a fact
  • Research
  • Learn a new word

Give

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.

  • Be kind to a stranger
  • Use please and thank you
  • Compliment someone
  • Help someone with their shopping bags
  • Hold the lift for someone
  • Make someone a drink
  • Ask someone if they need help

Diet and Metal Wellbeing

There is research to suggest one of the most obvious, yet under recognised factors in the development of mental health is nutrition. Just like the heart, stomach and liver, the brain is an organ that requires different amounts of complex carbohydrates, essential fatty acids, amino acids, vitamins, minerals and water to remain healthy (Mental Health Foundation 2016).

The BDA (The Association of UK Dietitians) food fact sheets that are written by dietitians show ways to help you learn the best ways to eat and drink to keep your body fit and healthy.