Most of us are aware that we should be taking care of our wellbeing, but when it comes to improving our overall state of contentment, comfort and health, it can be hard to know where to start.
The five steps to wellbeing were developed by the New Economics Foundation in 2008, and can help give you some ideas on how to improve your wellbeing, and the wellbeing of others. Evidence suggests that making small improvements to wellbeing can decrease some mental health problems and help people to flourish.
But what are the five ways to wellbeing and how easily can they be incorporated into daily life?
The five ways to wellbeing
Feeling valued and connected with others and having meaningful relationships have been linked to increased feelings of wellbeing. Healthy relationships can be particularly beneficial when it comes to ill physical or mental health, and isolation in these circumstances can conversely be dangerous or aggravate existing conditions. For example, having a broken leg may feel worse if you live on your own and no one is around to help you, and you may rely on support from others if you are feeling low or suffering from a mental health issue.
Here are some tips on how to connect at work:
- when you ask how someone is, or how their weekend was, really listen to the answer;
- if you find it difficult to connect with your co-workers, ask them about their interests outside of work;
- call or talk to someone instead of emailing or sending a message;
- take breaks with a colleague or eat your lunch with others.
2. Be active
Physical activity has been shown to be linked to better health outcomes, longevity and increased wellbeing. But if you are sitting down all day, it can feel difficult to add some exercise into your working day. Remember that some exercise is better than none at all, and that even seemingly gentle exercise, such as walking, has numerous health benefits.
The following ideas could help you get more active at work:
- go for a brisk walk around the block for ten minutes during lunch or break;
- take the stairs instead of the lift where possible;
- see if your workmates would be interested in doing some exercise together, this could be a walk, a run, a kick about or even a yoga class;
- try to stand up and walk around throughout the day as much as possible. This could mean walking to someone’s desk to talk to them, standing up when you’re on the phone or suggesting a walking meeting.
3. Take notice
When you are working in the same space all day, it can feel like nothing changes, but in fact things do change, you just have to notice them. Becoming aware of what is happening around you and appreciating the present moment can increase your wellbeing and help you enjoy your working day. Try the following:
- Buy a plant for your workspace and enjoy noticing it change and grow;
- Take your headphones out so you can pay attention to what is going on around you;
- Notice how your colleagues are feeling or acting. Also notice your own moods and how they affect others;
- Vary your lunch and snacks;
- Take a different route to or from work and go somewhere you’ve never been before on your break.
There are many benefits to learning in the workplace, it can help you feel motivated, engaged and boost your self-esteem, as well as add to your skillset. If there are no opportunities for formal training or development in your workplace, it might be worth enquiring about whether this would be possible. There are also plenty of other ways to learn at work:
- ask those who do a different job role to you to tell you about their job, they may even be able to teach you some new skills;
- set up a group or class where you can learn something with your work colleagues, for example a language or a craft;
- find out about your colleagues interests and skills outside of work, and consider asking them if they could teach you about them;
- research something you’ve always wanted to learn about;
- read a book in your lunch break;
- learn a new word and try to use it at work.
People who help others report higher feelings of wellbeing than those who do not. Small acts of kindness can improve your wellbeing and will also likely improve the wellbeing of the person you help. If you’re not sure where to start, here are some ideas:
- do someone a favour: buy them a snack, make them a cup of tea or pick up something from the shops for them;
- try to notice if your colleagues are feeling stressed or anxious and ask them what you can do to help;
- volunteer, and encourage your colleagues to do the same;
- give to charity, and consider getting your workplace involved in fundraising or a charity event;
- aim to do one kind thing a day;
- give your time by helping out your colleagues or other people you interact with in your working day.
Work and wellbeing
Evidence suggests that being in work is good for wellbeing. If you have been off work, especially for an extended period, returning to work can feel daunting, but Fit for Work can support you in your return to work. Call the advice line on 0800 032 6235 (English) or 0800 032 6233 (Welsh) or visit the Fit for Work website.
Those in Scotland can call 0800 019 2211 or visit fitforworkscotland.scot.