There is a small wellbeing revolution going on in a workplace near you. Health Professionals, Social Workers and Teachers are being encouraged to improve their wellbeing across five areas. Let’s call it a new kind of ‘Five a Day.’ It’s a concept based on research by The New Economics Foundation, which identifies five areas which, with investment, can help to maintain a healthy body and mind and therefore can lead to greater productivity and happiness.
This isn’t an overwhelming initiative that asks you to change your behaviour overnight. It’s a guide, which encourages you to make small adjustments that will accumulate and have a sustained impact.
Worth a try!
Have a look at a brief description of each category and take your pick from the list of suggested actions:
We are all aware of the current craze for mindfulness; from intricate colouring books to meditation, but there is a sense of calm that comes from taking a moment to clear your mind and be in the present, uncrowded by busy thoughts about yesterday or tomorrow.
- Be aware of the world around you and take time to observe details, such as the changing seasons.
- Take a photograph, which captures a beautiful detail.
- Take notice of how you are feeling, both physically and mentally.
- Take notice of how your colleagues are feeling or acting.
Continued learning energises us and we make connections with prior knowledge, firing up our brain and literally developing new neural pathways. It also encourages social interaction and enhances self-esteem.
- Sign up for a free on-line course – have a look at these: https://www.futurelearn.com
- Watch an inspiring talk on a subject close to your heart – TED.com
- Find a tutor in your local area – this service makes it easy https://www.tutoo.com/
- Buy tickets to see a local play, talk or poetry reading.
- Rediscover an old interest.
- Cook a new recipe.
- Learn to play an instrument.
Research into social and community life reveals that those who have a greater interest in helping others are more likely to rate themselves as happy. It makes sense. We are happier if we look out, as well as in.
- Thank someone – write them a card or buy them a small present.
- Do something nice for a friend or a stranger.
- Join a community group.
- Support a colleague at work.
We all know we should exercise more, but it doesn’t have to be anything as silly as running a marathon. It’s about regular exercise, even if it’s just for a few minutes a day.
- Go for a walk at lunchtime.
- Walk into work, even better, walk with a friend in order to connect.
- Do some easy stretches before you leave for work in the morning.
- Set yourself a physical challenge and structure your goal to help you achieve it. Why not try a 5K Park Run?
There is strong evidence indicating that feeling close to and being valued by other people is a fundamental human driver and one that supports us to function better in the world. Connect with the people around you: friends, family, neighbours and colleagues. Think of these relationships as the cornerstones of your life and invest time in developing them.
- Call someone instead of sending them an email.
- Speak to someone new at work.
- When you ask a question, make an effort to listen carefully to the answer.
- Put five minutes aside to find out how someone really is.
- Talk to someone with common interests and collaborate with them on an idea.
So, here’s the challenge…
Pick something to do every day and observe the impact it has. You might find it helpful to write down the small actions that you take on a daily basis and, as you see these accumulate, you may feel more resilient and able to distance yourself from daily stresses and strains.
Wellbeing is a huge area of interest and these suggestions are just dipping your toe into the vast sea of strategies available to you. But, I urge you to have a go!
Teachers nationwide have been talking and tweeting about their small wins using #teacher5aday on Twitter. And, because of this interest, there is a project underway to fund a beautiful journal full of ideas, supporting articles and diary space. If you would like to support this project, you can pledge here.
Take small steps towards a balanced diet of work and life with ‘Five a Day’ and I assure you, you won’t look back.