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Five ways to wellbeing

Written by Koen Smets (1 Dec 2014)

Mental health issues cause a huge amount of suffering.

In any year, about 25% of the adult population are afflicted by depression, anxiety, stress and other conditions.

This is why easier and more affordable access to appropriate therapy is so important. But there is a lot we can do ourselves to keep in good mental health, just like we try to keep physically fit – and so perhaps avoid the need for therapy altogether. The British think tank New Economics Foundation recently carried out a study on what works. They concluded there are five specific actions with proven efficacy in maintaining mental wellbeing, which they call the Five Ways to Wellbeing: Connect, Be Active, Take Notice, Keep Learning, and Give.

They look like straightforward common sense (and they are, really), but adopting new habits that seem easy and straightforward often means we don’t make much of an effort, or postpone them time and time again. So to combat inertia and chronic excusitis, what can help is some kind of trick, a little behavioural nudge.

In five short posts we will look at what we can do to nudge ourselves into making each these five ways a permanent fixture in what we do, day in, day out, week in, week out.

  1. Connect
  2. Be Active
  3. Take Notice
  4. Keep Learning
  5. Give

These five steps to mental wellbeing cannot perform miracles of course. Just like a balanced diet and a long walk don’t help to cure serious stomach or respiratory problems, these steps may have only a limited effect for someone with a deep depression.

But in the same way that a healthy physical lifestyle is strongly correlated with better general health, embracing these five actions into our daily activities can help us cope better with the forces that give us mental stress. It may not be easy to adopt new patterns of behaviours, but a few small nudges can help you keep your mens as sana as possible amid the hectic shenanigans of life.