5 ways to improve your mental wellbeing
At OurPath, we believe it’s just as important to look after your mind as it is your body. And we’re not alone: mental wellbeing is acknowledged by the NHS as being an important part of your overall health.
But the term “wellbeing” is thrown around a lot these days. What does it actually mean – and is there anything you can do to improve it?
Feeling well, living well
Life has a way of throwing out challenges when you least expect it. Mental wellbeing means feeling strong and ready to meet them. Nobody feels cheerful 24/7, but an enhanced sense of mental wellbeing does mean we’re likely to feel calmer and more confident, and better placed to deal with stress and anxiety when they do occur.
Managing your mental wellness is especially important when you’ve decided to make a lifestyle change, like getting fitter and healthier, and taking on new challenge is the perfect moment to take a look at your emotional health. What’s more, when you feel emotionally well, you’re more able to adapt to changes and challenges, which will make your transition to a healthier lifestyle all the easier – it’s a win-win situation.
Five steps to mental wellbeing
There are five simple, evidence-based steps we can all take to improve our mental wellbeing. Best of all, they’re free and you can start right now. No excuses!
1) Get active
We often see getting fit as an end in itself, but evidence shows that physical activity can also have a positive impact on mental health. You don’t need to be a paid-up gym member or a football pro to get started (though team sports can be a great way to connect with others – see step 2). Getting active can be as simple as going for a walk – ten thousand steps a day can be enough to have a significant impact on your health.
And if you can take a walk through your local park, so much the better: a growing body of research is showing the powerful positive impacts of nature on physical and mental wellbeing.
2) Stay connected
Everything is better when you’re part of a team. Working with others and strengthening your relationships with family, friends and the wider community has been shown have a real impact on your emotional health. A review by the Mental Health Foundation found that people with strong social support networks report greater mental and physical wellbeing than those that don’t.
We feel happier and more fulfilled when we have meaningful connections in our lives, and it doesn’t take much to foster them: just calling a friend to ask about their day can be enough to lift your sense of connection and wellbeing – and will mean a lot to them, too.
That’s also why you take the OurPath programme with a group – having your own support network, and being able to support others when they need a boost, is an incredibly empowering experience that can really up your chances of maintaining healthy lifestyle changes for good.
3) Keep learning
Studies show that lifelong learning boosts confidence and self-esteem. And it doesn’t require books and classrooms any more – with the abundance of free online courses and Youtube videos, it’s never been easier to learn a new skill.
You could even make it a goal to learn about your own health and wellbeing – the OurPath education programme gives you the chance to learn about the latest nutritional science and explore different aspects of wellbeing that you can practice at home.
Or why not make it a social event? Turning your hand to learning a new cuisine and surprising your friends with a tasty, healthy, home-cooked meal once a month is a great way to challenge yourself and stay connected.
4) Be mindful
Mindfulness – the practice of tuning in to the present moment – is growing in popularity in response to our increasingly hectic, always-on lifestyles. It’s a tried and tested tool for improving mental health and wellbeing, and it’s easy to give it a go yourself.
Try taking just ten minutes a day – when you wake up, on your lunch hour, or even on the bus home – to sit quietly, and allow yourself to simply become aware of the present moment and your thoughts and feelings. If you’re used to a frenetic lifestyle and the idea seems daunting, apps like Headspace can be a good place to start.
You could even give mindful eating a try – check out our blog on how mindful eating can contribute to enhanced wellbeing and weight loss.
5) Give to others
There’s a wealth of evidence to suggest that volunteering results in increased wellbeing, and it’s no surprise – there’s nothing quite like that inner glow that comes with the satisfaction of having helped someone out. Websites like Do-It are great resources for finding fulfilling opportunities for your spare time.
But even if you can’t make a regular commitment to volunteering, there are simple things you can do every day that can make a real difference, like helping a stranger with their shopping, or buying a cup of tea for someone who might need it. You might be surprised at just how good it feels.
Practice makes perfect
It doesn’t take much to improve our mental wellbeing, and a little effort can make a world of difference. Incorporating small changes to your daily routine will add up to make you feel Why not commit to practicing these five steps for a week and see how it feels?
Learn more about the OurPath programme.