Exploring the Five Ways to Wellbeing

4 October 2021

At Derbyshire Mind, we recognise the importance of looking after our mental wellbeing on a daily basis. We know that by doing little things that we enjoy each day we can be more resilient to life’s ups and downs.

In 2008, instead of looking at what makes people richer, independent think tank, New Economics Foundation, looked at what makes people happier. Based on evidence from research, they created the ‘Five Ways to Wellbeing’, identifying five simple actions we can take to make our lives happier and more fulfilling. Those five actions are: to Connect; Be Active; Take Notice; Keep Learning; and Give.

Just in the same way that we know it is good for our physical health to eat five portions of fruit and veg a day, these Five Ways to Wellbeing are things we can all incorporate every day which are good for our overall mental health, happiness, and wellbeing.

The Five Ways also help us talk about the things that matter to us on a personal level, and help us to focus on what we can do to take care of ourselves and others. Particularly at this difficult and confusing time.

Let’s look at each of the Five Ways in turn. We will look at what they each mean, and give you some ideas of ways you could put it into action:

Connect with the people around you. With family, friends, colleagues and neighbours. At home, work, school or in your local community. Think of these as the cornerstones of your life and invest time in developing them. Building these connections will support and enrich you every day”

 With this in mind, try to do something different today and make a connection:

  • Talk to someone instead of sending an email
  • Ask how someone’s weekend was and really listen when they tell you
  • Put five minutes aside to find out how someone really is
  • Join an online group or class where you can meet new people
  • Stick drawings and messages in your window to say hi to friends and neighbours even if you can’t speak to them

Be Active:
“Go for a walk or run. Step outside. Cycle. Play a game. Garden. Dance. Exercising makes you feel good. Most importantly, discover a physical activity you enjoy and that suits your level of mobility and fitness.”

It doesn’t need to be particularly intense for you to feel good. Here are a few ideas:

  • Go for a walk at lunchtime, even if it’s only a few laps of your garden
  • Walk into work – perhaps with a colleague
  • Get off the bus one stop earlier than usual and walk the final part of your journey to work
  • Have a kick-about in your local park
  • Sign up to a free online group activity such as our Movement and Mindfulness course
  • Do some easy exercise like stretching, before you leave for work in the morning

Take Notice:
“Catch sight of the beautiful. Remark on the unusual. Notice the changing seasons. Savour the moment, whether you are eating lunch or talking to friends. Be aware of the world around you and what you are feeling. Reflecting on your experiences will help you appreciate what matters to you.”

Take some time to enjoy the moment and the environment around you. Here are a few ideas:

  • Plant some seeds for your workspace and watch them grow over the weeks
  • Have a ‘clear the clutter’ day
  • Take notice of how your colleagues are feeling or acting
  • Take a different route on your journey to or from work
  • Close your eyes when out for a walk and notice how many different sounds you can hear
  • Give journaling a go and reflect of the positives of each day before you go to bed

Keep Learning:
“Try something new. Rediscover an old interest. Sign up for that course. Fix a bike. Learn to play an instrument or how to cook your favourite food. Set a challenge you will enjoy achieving. As well as being fun, learning new things will make you more confident.”

Why not learn something new today? Here are a few more ideas:

  • Find out something about each of your friends
  • Sign up for an interesting class that will teach you something new
  • Read a new book, or even set up a book club with your friends or colleagues
  • Research something you’ve always wondered about
  • Challenge yourself to learn a new word each day

Do something nice for a friend, or a stranger. Thank someone. Smile. Volunteer your time. Join a community group. Look out, as well as in. Seeing yourself, and your happiness, linked to the wider community can be incredibly rewarding and creates connections with the people around you.”

 How could you help someone today? Some ideas might include:

  • Joining a local volunteering group
  • Offer to do a neighbour’s shopping
  • Smiling and being friendly to people serving you, such as cashiers and shop assistants
  • Give blood regularly
  • Send postcards and little notes to friends living further away

If the five ways to wellbeing concept is of interest to you, it may help you to create an action plan for yourself in a notebook. Can you think of three things you might like to do more of for each category? You don’t have to plan for them all – just do what you feel comfortable with.

Did you know:
Derbyshire Mind’s ‘Enjoying Derbyshire programme of free activities and groups is based on the Five Ways to Wellbeing. Learn more about our services and ways you can get involved in our community groups by visiting www.derbyshiremind.org.uk/community