What Are The Five Ways to Wellbeing?
Ask someone what their hopes are for themselves, their friends and their family and they will often reply ‘health and happiness’. Ask them the best way to achieve this and they often struggle. This isn’t surprising, or new.
Thinkers and scientists have been exploring the concepts of health and happiness for thousands of years.
Greek philosophers, including Aristotle, were some of the first to consider the make-up and markers of a fruitful and fulfilling life.
More recently, experts in the fields of economics, behavioral science and positive psychology have been researching how to maximise health, happiness and wellbeing. Simply stated, wellbeing can be thought of as how we feel and how we function.
People who report high levels of wellbeing are often described as thriving and flourishing. Feeling well and functioning strongly is associated with positive cognitive states such as happiness and curiosity, strong social and work relationships and having a sense of meaning and purpose.
Those who have high levels of wellbeing are often also found to be better able to meet life’s challenges when they present themselves both at home and at work.
How can we thrive?
Through extensive research, reviews and expert opinion, the New Economics Foundation has developed a list of key activities, which have been consistently and positively related to improving how we feel and function at home, at work and in everything that we do.
These practical steps are often referred to as the Five Ways of Wellbeing and have been used to encourage healthier behaviours in local government communities, health care and across the public and private sectors. The five individual strands are: Connect, Be active, Take notice, Keep Learning and Give.
All of these five steps are free, easily achievable and applicable to anyone’s life regardless of age, health or circumstance. At Juice we are be blending the five ways into everything we do.
- Connect…With the people around you. With family, friends, work colleagues and neighbours. At home, work, school or in your local community. Think of these as the cornerstones of your life and invest time in developing them. Building these connections will support and enrich your every day experiences.
- Be active… Go for a walk or run. Step outside. Bootcamp. 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.
- Take notice… Be curious. Catch sight of the beautiful. Remark on the unusual. Notice the changing seasons. Feel the sun on your face. 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.
- Keep learning… Try something new. Rediscover an old interest. Sign up for a new course. Take on a different responsibility at work. Do some DIY. Join a choir or learn how to cook your favourite food. Set a challenge you will enjoy achieving. Learning new things will make you more confident as well as being fun.
- Give… Do something nice for a friend, a work colleague or even a stranger. Thank someone. Smile. Volunteer your time. Join a community group. Look out, as well as in. Seeing yourself, and your happiness, linked to the wider community can be incredibly rewarding and creates connections with the people around you.
Wellbeing, as with most things in life, does involve some of action, but many of us will in some way already be doing some of the ‘five ways’ without even being aware of it.
You can think about the ‘five ways’ in the same way you would your ‘five a day’ approach to getting enough fruit and vegetables. On their own, most fruits and vegetables are good, but for optimal nutrition we are recommended to get a rich variety and blend of high quality and different produce. Similarly, undertaking a diverse range of activities which collectively or individually incorporate the different strands of the ‘five ways to wellbeing’ is thought to be the most effective.
Balanced and well-planned meals will include a variety of different vitamins and minerals and similarly some activities we do could address multiple wellbeing steps. For example, a walk in the woods would enable you to get active and an opportunity to soak up the variety of textures, colours and smells of the countryside.
What does your wellbeing diet look like?
In a series of blogs we will be exploring each of the five ways individually and making some suggestions on how to make small changes to develop a rich and personalised diet of healthy habits.
As a starting point, you might want to think about how often each week you are getting your ‘five ways’. How often do you connect with others? When was the last time you learnt something new? When did you last take the time to soak in your surroundings, or got active?
Making any lasting change to our life requires tenacity and commitment. But this doesn’t have to mean hard work and struggle. In fact the secret to developing lasting positive behaviours is finding activities and ways of living that you find enjoyable and stimulating. Let the fun commence.
Which parts of the Five Ways to Wellbeing do you already incorporate into your day-to-day? Are there any that you need to embrace more? Join the conversation on social media using #Juicevocates or comment below, we’d love to hear from you.