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LAST REVIEWED 20 July 2023

Five ways to good mental wellbeing

Follow the five ways to good mental wellbeing and find out how Good Thinking’s resources can help you to boost your mood.

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Feeling anxious or stressed? Experiencing low mood or depression? Having trouble sleeping? There’s a lot going on in the world at the moment that could be affecting your mental health. 

The five steps below were developed by the New Economics Foundation more than a decade ago and are recommended by the NHS, Mind and other mental health organisations as a way to start feeling more positive and boosting your wellbeing. It only takes a few minutes to read through them and think about how you could incorporate these simple actions in your daily life.

If you live in London and need support for your wellbeing, Good Thinking provides a range of free apps, ‘how to’ guides and other online tools. We’ve included links to some of our resources at the end of this article, including ‘Five ways to good mental wellbeing’ advice for young people and for Londoners of different faiths.

1. Connect with other people

Having good relationships with your family, friends and colleagues is important as it can:

  • Improve your feelings of belonging and self-worth
  • Give you the chance to share positive activities and experiences
  • Provide emotional support for you and allow you to support others

There are lots of things you can do to stay connected and build stronger relationships (either in person or remotely), such as:

  • Spend time together as a family every day (e.g. over dinner)
  • Go for lunch with a friend 
  • Call someone to find out how they are or send them a text message
  • Travel home from work with a colleague
  • Make the most of video chat apps like FaceTime and WhatsApp

People sat in a group on the grass next to a tree

2. Be physically active

Two people running

Being active and exercising regularly is important for your physical health but it can also improve your mental health by:

  • Boosting your self-esteem
  • Reducing depression, anxiety and stress
  • Lowering your risk of long-term health conditions, such as heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and some cancers
  • Helping you to set goals for yourself and achieve them
  • Causing chemical changes in your brain that can have a positive impact on your mood

It is recommended that adults should try to be active every day and do at least 150 minutes of physical activity over a week. This might include:

  • Slower-paced activities, such as walking around your home or garden
  • 10-minute workouts on the NHS website
  • A walk, bike ride or outdoor game with your kids
  • Using YouTube or a fitness app to exercise at home
  • Easy, low-impact exercise whenever you can (e.g. stretches while the kettle boils)
  • Getting off the bus or tube one stop early and walking to work

If you are living with a long-term condition, check out We Are Undefeatable's advice on getting active.

3. Learn new skills

Learning something new can be good for your mental wellbeing as it:

  • Raises your self-esteem and self-confidence
  • Helps you to gain a sense of purpose
  • Connects you with other people 
  • Reduces low mood and depression

There are lots of ways to bring learning into your life. For example, you could:

  • Sign up for an online course (e.g. at your local college or through FutureLearn)
  • Read some books (and perhaps set up a book club with your friends)
  • Rediscover an old hobby or try a new one
  • Cook or bake something you’ve not made before
  • Work on a DIY project (there are lots of free video tutorials online)
  • Visit YouTube or Instagram to learn a dance routine or some art and craft techniques

Person in a wheelchair painting a picture on an easel

4. Give to others

Person giving a bag of food to two older people

Acts of giving and kindness are known to help improve mental wellbeing by:

  • Creating positive feelings
  • Providing a sense of reward
  • Giving you a feeling of purpose and self-worth
  • Helping you to meet other people

Those who have a greater interest in helping others are more likely to consider themselves happy. You could try:

  • Saying thank you to someone for something they have done for you
  • Doing some shopping for an elderly neighbour
  • Asking people how they are and really listening to their answer
  • Spending time with friends or relatives who need support or company
  • Listening to our podcast about making positive changes where you live
  • Volunteering in your local community (e.g. for a charity)

5. Pay attention to the present moment

Being in the moment and being aware of your thoughts, your feelings, your body and the world around you can improve your mental health. Often called ‘mindfulness’, this can help you to understand yourself better, change the way you approach challenges and enjoy life more. 

To get you started, you could:

Person meditating next to a dog

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Good Thinking provides a range of resources to help Londoners improve their mental wellbeing.

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