The New Economics Foundation presented a report to the Foresight Project communicating the evidence base for improving people’s well-being – Five ways To Wellbeing. In todays world I’m noticing the desire for quick fixes, so of course only 5 ways to wellbeing may sound appealing to some. In essence there are 5 ways or themes, but they still require steps and action in order to move closer to a happier, healthier and more satisfied you. Don’t be put off though, I’m living proof that they are all very much achievable. Inspire Motivate Transform is all about providing the stepping stone to greater things, so let’s delve in a little deeper, looking at the very least you can do to work towards improved wellbeing.
1. Connect – Connecting with people shouldn’t feel scary. In its simplest form, I’d say a friendly smile or hello to someone is connecting. And it doesn’t have to be a complete stranger either, family, friends and neighbours all count and since you know these people, why not engage in a longer than usual conversation.
Connecting doesn’t always have to be face to face, it can be online, by phone call or writing letters. Like most things, once you take the first step, the next becomes easier and before you know it you may be extending those connections to people at work, school and in the community.
2. Be Active – I believe that everybody can do something to be active, the key is to find what works for you, and that may change regularly depending on how you feel, which is totally ok. Often we attempt to do something we used to do, when we were fitter, healthier, younger and then give up because we can no longer achieve it. Learning to accept changes as we age is a barrier we all come to face.
So what small changes can you make? Stretch in the morning, go for a short walk, dance, find a buddy and join a local activity, potter in the garden, take the stairs. As I said, once you take the first step, the next becomes easier and before you know it you may find you are active every day in different ways. Studies have shown that getting active can help you sleep better, have happier moods, and reduce feelings of stress and anxiety – I can vouch for that!
3. Keep Learning – Learn something new they say. But what about the fear of failure – not being able to do it, doing it wrong or not being good enough…that’s what I hear you say. The reality is we are always learning something new often without realising it – new work processes, updated technology, an alternative car journey because of roadworks, new digital systems. It’s good to recognise this because adult learning impacts on self esteem, competence, sense of purpose and hope.
So why not purposely try something new, rediscover an old interest, read a book you’ve been meaning to read, gain a new skill and find the enjoyment in learning.
4. Give – Giving doesn’t have to cost much, if anything it’s your time. You know when you do a good deed and it makes you feel good, that’s the gift of giving (without expecting anything in return). So if it feels good then I say, do more good deeds. The world needs more random acts of kindness don’t you think?
It could be a simple as saying thank you or giving someone a smile, perhaps helping a neighbour with a daily task or offering a listening ear. Volunteering in your local community or online is another to way to give. People are often worried they can’t commit, but offering a little of your time when you are available is still valuable.
5. Take Notice – Have you noticed the spring bulbs poking up through the soil? Are you fully immersed in conversations with friends or thinking about your to do list? When you’re walking or on the bus are you observing what you see around you?
Taking notice is about being in and savouring the moment, a pause of appreciation. As you’re reading this now, have a look around you, what can you appreciate and be grateful for? As I write this, I hear the birds tweeting, they are avidly looking for food in the garden.
So what will you do? It’s easy to think “oh here’s another thing to add to my to do list” but what about your TO BE list? The reminder of how or who you would like to be. But let’s not forget the impact of your actions on the wellbeing and outlook of others around you.
New practices start with a small step, steps lead to action which drives motivation and consistency creates new behaviours.
You’ve got this!