Believe it or not, there are 5 Ways to Wellbeing! “Pah!” I hear you say. Well of course there are more ways, if you’re a micro kind of a person, but from a macro perspective, there really is 5 ways. Back in 2008 the UK government commissioned research into Mental Capital and Wellbeing. The findings from the research can be found here, where you can also find the executive summary. From the research, guidance was created, that has become known as the 5 Ways to Wellbeing. I’ve used the 5 Ways as a framework for students I have worked with over the past 10 years. The 5 Ways are below:
- Connect – connect with the people around you. It could be family, friends, colleagues, peers, neighbours. In your place of study, workplace, or local neighbourhood. Increasing your connectivity (in real, not necessarily through social media) has been shown to improve your mental health. Isolation is a significant risk factor for developing poor mental wellbeing.
- Be active – much of the point of my blog is around increasing activity to become fitter. Even simple forms of exercise has been shown to improve mental health. A walk in the local park, going for a bicycle ride, doing some gardening can make you feel better about yourself. The University of Cumbria’s campuses are all close to local parks, go out and get to know them if you are studying there. The University also has Green Minds, a project to encourage staff and students to do some basic gardening, which is great for being active, but also for connecting with others. If you are reading this blog, and not a staff or student member of the University of Cumbria, may be see what is going on at your work or place of study.
- Take notice – gardening is another great way to do this. Get in tune with the seasons. Savour the moment. Reflect on your experiences, and this will help you appreciate what really matters. I am a keen gardener, and I do enjoy watching the seasons come and go through what plants are blooming in the garden. I also over the years, have enjoyed growing fruit and veg, and strive to eat seasonally. In fact, this is one of my favourite times of year, as one of my favourite vegetables is just coming into season, and it will also be the first time that I will be able to harvest my own crop of Asparagus!
- Keep learning – of course, if you are a student, then hopefully you will be learning all the time, but also try something new or rediscover an old interest. As part of my coast to coast ride, I have started to learn basic cycle maintenance, and how to improve my cycle ride techniques.
- Give – do something nice for someone else, a friend, partner, or a stranger. I often encourage students to consider volunteering at the local animal shelter, helps with all 5 ways to wellbeing, taking a dog for a walk can be a new skill, it can increase activity, and help take notice. Of course, if you want to give, you could always sponsor me, as I try to raise money for the Cameron Grant Memorial Trust