Promoting your wellbeing at this time of year, is made easier by following The Five Ways which offer simple steps towards reducing stressful moments which may otherwise spoil this festive season.
Connect with the people around you. According to Northern Ireland’s interim Mental Health Champion, Professor Siobhan O’Neill, no matter what age we are, probably one of the most important factors for improved psychological health and well being, is relationships and connectedness with other people.
“A huge amount of research has shown the positive effects of relationships on our physical health, like blood pressure, cardiac illness, cancer, as well as our mental health, including reduced levels of stress and depression.”
If you need some time on your own this busy season, reflect; spend a while doing something you enjoy. Stay in touch with how you are feeling by connecting with your mind and body. Mindfulness is one way to do this.
Be Active. Whether you prefer walking or running, cycling, playing a game, gardening or dancing, exercise makes you feel good. Find something you enjoy and dedicate time to do it; start with 10 minutes and work up to 30 minutes of physical activity for the day.
Take Notice. Stop, pause, and take a moment to look around you right now. What can you see, smell or even taste? Look for beautiful, new, unusual or extraordinary things in your everyday life and think about how that makes you feel without judging or trying to change them. Take a few deep breaths, feel the rising and falling of your chest, and take notice of the chair under you or the weight of your feet on the floor. Try apps like Headspace or Calm for guided meditations, and you’ll learn how to notice and release tension you didn’t even realise you were carrying. Sit in your garden or go for walks with those in your live, notice nature and the sound of life.
Keep Learning. Variety is the spice of life so keep learning new things, it will make you feel more confident, will boost your self-esteem and improve your overall well being. Use any spare time to unwind, learn a skill you were putting off – cook, study a new language, exercise or get stuck into that novel. Or why not try your hand at gardening – a pastime much reported as being beneficial for well being.
Give. Look outward as well as inward. Linking yourself and your happiness to the wider community can be incredibly rewarding and will create connections with the people around you, even if you can’t physically be there. Giving can be something as simple as using social media in a positive way to share messages or support. Make a call or send a text to a friend, older relative or someone living on their own – it might just make their day to know that someone is thinking of them.
Lastly, give yourself a hug. You can only do so much and you’re doing the best you can. Try to love yourself – you can’t pour from an empty cup, so give yourself time to relax and think of all the things you can look forward to with family and friends.
Based on the Five Ways to Well Being, developed by the New Economics Foundation.