Five ways to improve your wellbeing
Tips and ideas for people to build resilience to cope with stress and support wellbeing.
Dealing with stress and building resilience
Supporting your wellbeing, especially in times of crisis, can be difficult. We often ignore how we are feeling, until it gets overwhelming. Stress is a normal and natural response to a difficult situation, but too much stress can be physically bad for our bodies and impact our wellbeing. It is important that we learn how to deal with stress well, to face challenges resiliently.
Research by the New Economics Foundation has found that five simple things can help your wellbeing. How can you use these to help you build resilience and cope with stress?
Building positive connections
Building relationships with others is the best way to improve your wellbeing. It reminds us that we are not alone, that we are important to others, and that we have someone who can support us when we need it. A meaningful connection with someone whether it’s friends, family or at work is not just a conversation about the weather, it’s about feeling heard and valued. What do you need from a positive connection to make it a meaningful relationship? Is there anyone you can connect with like this?
Watch this video about understanding the relationships you have with people to help you think about who you could reach out to. Could you make this connection regular? Embedding positive behaviour into your routine helps build long term resilience.
Moving your body
Being active has lots of positive effects on your physical health and your wellbeing. It releases a hormone that helps you manage stress and can help build self-esteem. You don’t need to run a marathon or go to a gym if that’s not for you. Think about a physical activity that you would enjoy. Would a nice walk in the park suit you? Or could you combine being active with building connections, and join a local sports club?
Mental health and physical health are connected: improving one will help improve the other. Think about what you enjoy doing, what you’d like to try, what works for you and your body, and see what’s available in your local area.
Being mindful just means taking a moment to be present in the world around you. You can do this in any way you want. Taking a moment to notice all the things you can hear around you; observing all the colours you can see on a nice walk, or stopping to ask yourself: how am I feeling right now? Sometimes mindfulness can be beneficial when we are feeling stressed.
Try the breathing with colour exercise to clear your mind.
Picture a colour you associate with happy, positive thoughts.
Now picture another for not so positive thoughts.
Take a slow breath in and picture breathing in the positive colour. Imagine the breath is reaching your fingers and toes.
Take a slow breath out and imagine you're breathing out the negative colour.
Blow it far away from you.
Repeat this exercise a few times.
Does it help? How do you feel now?
Learning new things
Learning something new is like staying active for your brain. Just like physical exercise, mental exercise can help boost positive feelings of self-esteem and motivation and will keep you healthy by reducing the risk of developing diseases like dementia. Learning new things could also help you meet new people by joining a class or group to learn together with others.
Lifelong learning can be fun and help you develop skills and knowledge that benefit other areas of your life as well as improving your mental health and wellbeing. What is one thing you’ve always wanted to learn but never have? Could you start learning now? How about learning the skill of first aid?
Research shows doing positive things help us to feel good. There are many ways we can help others, from donating to charity shops and fundraisers, to just taking the time to ask someone how they are doing. Small acts of kindness go a long way. What small acts of kindness could you do this week? Could you aim to do one kind thing a week for the next month? How about one kind act a day?
Setting yourself reachable goals is another positive way to improve your wellbeing. Be careful about expecting too much of yourself though. We can’t help other people if we don’t help ourselves first. Being kind to yourself, showing patience and tolerance, just as you would to a friend, is important for staying resilient and supporting your wellbeing too.
If you believe somebody needs more help, then you can tell them about our free support line: 0808 196 3651. You can speak to experienced Red Cross volunteers who can help with feelings of loneliness, support and advice.
If you or someone you know is really struggling, speak to a doctor and visit the NHS website for more advice on mental health support.
Develop your ways of managing wellbeing
Having a range of techniques and ways of dealing with challenges is important. Explore the rest of our wellbeing offering that includes ideas and activities that may help you deal with specific feelings around worry and stress, as well as activities for supporting your wellbeing.
For activities offline, try downloading the self-kindness toolkit (PDF) which includes information and engaging activities to boost your wellbeing.