October the 10th is World Mental Health Day. To mark the occasion and to raise awareness of the importance of good mental health WorkGuru is getting back to basics; we are revisiting the brilliant Foresight report and their Five Ways to Mental Wellbeing. Five simple things that we can all be doing to boost and maintain our mental wellbeing.
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 life and invest time in developing them. Building these connections will support and enrich you every day.
Go for a walk or a 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.
Be curious. Catch sight of the beautiful. Remark on the unusual. Notice the changing seasons. Savour the moment, whether you are walking to work, 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.
Try something new. Rediscover an old interest. Sign up for that course. Take on a different responsibility at work. Fix a bike. Learn to play an instrument or how to cook your favourite food. Set a challenge you enjoy achieving. Learning new things will make you more confident as well as being fun.
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, as linked to the wider community can be incredibly rewarding and creates connections with the people around you.
“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others”. Mahatma Gandhi
A BBC poll suggests that almost half of adults in England experience loneliness – people of all ages and in all circumstances.
In last year’s Christmas blog I spoke about the impact of loneliness and encouraged people who were experiencing loneliness to reach out. This year I want to focus on the act of giving. Whether or not someone reaches out to us, we all need to be there to provide each other with the emotional and practical support that at times in our lives we all need.
Of course, no giving is truly altruistic. The giver benefits just as much as the recipient. Giving helps us to feel:
- More socially connected – it fosters a sense of trust and strengthens our bonds with others. The more we give the more likely we are to receive support from others when we need it.
- Happier – the act of giving activates the regions in our brains connected with pleasure, social connection and trust.
- Healthier – the more we help others the lower our blood pressure, the healthier we feel and the lower our risk of dying within the next 5 years!
- Less stressed – giving to others and creating a sense of social connectedness acts as a buffer against feelings of negative stress.
- Better about ourselves – giving boosts our self-esteem and mood and gives us a sense of purpose.
Plus, giving has been shown to be contagious, by giving to others we create a ripple effect throughout our community – encouraging others to give as well.
The tough bit though, the really tough bit, is being able to give in a way that is open hearted, generous, and without strings. Giving so that the recipient feels that they are helping us, and giving in a way that it makes it easy for people to receive. That is the challenge – giving with love.