We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again. Prioritising your own wellbeing is a necessity, not a luxury. In order to get the most out of your life, and support those around you, first you need to invest in your own health and wellbeing.
Easier said than done? We hear you. So let’s keep it simple with these five ways to wellbeing. These principles are not new (and nope, not rocket science either), but they are backed by evidence, which shows that these simple steps can help you to feel more positive and get more out of your life.
Humans need relationships. Of course, there are times when we want to be alone, but generally we have a need to feel connected to other people - to family and friends, whether that’s at home, at work or in our community. This truth has been severely tested over the past couple of years, but with evidence showing that loneliness can significantly increase the risk of premature death, we need to make time to rebuild connections. We need the sense of belonging and emotional support that comes from maintaining good relationships.
So, make time to come together with your family for dinner, to catch up with a friend for coffee, or to chat with someone new. Ask how they are feeling. And really listen to what they are saying. Connecting with other people truly is one of the fundamental building blocks of self-care.
Finding a physical activity that you enjoy has obvious physical health benefits, but being active can also help your mental wellbeing by raising your self-esteem and reducing feelings of depression and anxiety. Being active outdoors can help reduce stress and boost your immune system... and all it takes is a couple of hours a week enjoying nature to notice an improvement in how you feel.
So step outside and go for a walk, cycle to work or potter in your garden. If you’re more of an indoors person, dance around the kitchen, do a yoga session or head to the gym. It doesn’t have to be intense for you to feel the benefits. What’s important is that you make it a regular thing, so do something that you enjoy. It should become a part of your everyday life and be a pleasure, not a chore.
Mindfulness can help you to pay more attention to your thoughts and feelings, which in turn can help you enjoy the little things more. "Be curious… catch sight of the beautiful and remark on the unusual." That’s the advice of the experts, who urge us to be more aware of the world around us and to take note of what we are feeling to improve our feeling of wellbeing. When you do this, you can change the way you react to situations and engage more positively with the everyday things that sometimes pass you by.
A good way to start may be to simply check in with your body by focusing on your breathing or your heart beating. Slow things down mentally and let your mind wander, or bring a moment of calm into a hectic work day (try a lunchtime meditation session at the library!) Whichever way you decide to do this, reflecting on your everyday experiences can give you a better sense of perspective and help you to recognise what really matters to you.
We know that life can be busy and the thought of trying something new can be a bit daunting, but there's a lot of research out there that shows that learning new skills is good for your wellbeing. It can boost your self confidence and help you give you a sense of purpose, as well as helping you to be more active and connect with other people.
Maybe it’s time to sign up for that evening class or think about taking on a new responsibility at work? If you’re pushed for time, keep it simple; try a new recipe or do a crossword puzzle. If you’re looking for inspiration, Guernsey Mind advocate several community groups that you can join for free, from guided meditation to singing in a choir. We really are spoilt for choice here in Guernsey when it comes to opportunities to try something new, so let's take advantage!
Doing something kind for a friend, or even a stranger, not only helps them but it can also be extremely rewarding for you. Giving to others can give you a renewed sense of purpose and can create positive feelings of self worth for everyone involved. And it doesn’t stop there. Research shows that acts of kindness can lower your blood pressure and reduce your stress and anxiety levels. At the same time, your energy levels go up, along with the level of ‘happy hormones’ in your bloodstream. This can make you experience a phenomenon called ‘helper’s high’ when your brain’s pleasure and reward centre lights up as if you were the one receiving the good deed. It's a win-win for all involved. Be kind to people. It's good for you.