Five ways to good mental wellbeing

Updated on 12 August 2020

During the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, you might find it useful to consider the following five steps to improve your mental health and wellbeing, as recommended by the NHS.


1. Connect with other people

Good relationships are important for your mental wellbeing as they can:

  • Help you to build a sense of belonging and self-worth
  • Give you an opportunity to share positive experiences
  • Provide emotional support and allow you to support others

You might not be able to meet up with friends and family in the usual way at the moment but there are still things you can do to stay connected:

  • Put five minutes aside to call or text someone to find out how they are
  • Make the most of video chat apps like Skype, FaceTime, WhatsApp and Houseparty to stay in touch with friends and family
  • Find online community apps in the NHS apps library

As lockdown restrictions are eased, the guidance for meeting up with people from other households is changing – you can get full details on the UK Government website.

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2. Be physically active

Being active is not only great for your physical health and fitness, it can also improve your mental wellbeing by:

  • Raising your self-esteem
  • Reducing depression and anxiety
  • Lowering your risk of long-term health conditions, such as heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and some cancers
  • Helping you to set goals or challenges and achieve them
  • Causing chemical changes in your brain that can help to positively change your mood

You should continue to do regular exercise at this time, if you’re well enough. This might include:

  • Slower-paced activities, such as walking around your home or garden
  • Easy, low-impact exercise whenever you can – like stretching while the kettle boils or doing some yoga first thing in the morning
  • 10-minute workouts on the NHS website
  • Workouts on YouTube or on a fitness app that you download
  • A ‘clear the clutter’ day


3. Learn something new each day

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Research shows that learning new skills can improve your mental wellbeing by:

  • Boosting self-confidence, raising self-esteem and reducing depression
  • Helping you to gain a sense of purpose
  • Connecting you with others (at the moment, this could be via the phone, internet, WhatsApp or Facebook groups)

There are lots of different ways to bring learning into your life and set some new goals while you’re at home. You could:

  • Sign up for an online course (e.g. through FutureLearn)
  • Read some books (and perhaps set up a virtual book club with your friends)
  • Rediscover an old hobby or try a new one
  • Do a crossword or Sudoku
  • Cook something new
  • Work on a DIY project – there are lots of free video tutorials online
  • Go on YouTube to teach yourself a dance routine or some art and craft techniques


4. Give to others

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

  • Creating positive feelings and a sense of reward
  • Giving you a feeling of purpose and self-worth
  • Helping you connect with other people

People who report a greater interest in helping others are more likely to rate themselves as happy. From small acts of kindness to more regular giving, such as volunteering, it’s vital that we show compassion to everyone affected by this unusual situation. You could try:

  • Saying thank you to someone for something they have done for you
  • Getting some essential supplies for a vulnerable neighbour
  • Asking friends, family or colleagues how they are and really listening to their answer
  • Spending time online with friends or relatives who need support or company
  • Volunteering in your local community (e.g. through a COVID-19 Mutual Aid group, for a food bank or helping to make scrubs for health and care workers)


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 wellbeing. Often called ‘mindfulness’, this can help you to understand yourself better, change the way you approach challenges and enjoy life more.

You could start by:

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Useful websites

NHS

NHS Better Health

Every Mind Matters

MIND

Mindkit

Mind Your Way

Mental Health Foundation

YoungMinds


Read Good Thinking's articles about reducing stress, improving sleep, eating healthily, managing boredom and dealing with uncertainty. You might also find the workbooks by the Centre for Clinical Interventions useful.