The concept of wellbeing comprises two main elements: feeling good and functioning well. Feelings of happiness, contentment, enjoyment, curiosity and engagement are characteristic of someone who has a positive experience of their life. Equally important for wellbeing is our functioning in the world. Experiencing positive relationships, having some control over your life and having a sense of purpose are all important attributes of wellbeing. Five steps to wellbeing, New Economics Foundation 2008.

During these extraordinary times of isolation and social distancing it is import for staff to maintain activities that support our wellbeing and that will require planning and innovative ideas to maintain a positive feeling of functioning in the world at a time that many of us feel the strain on personal relationships and feeling in control of our lives and purpose. Research suggests that there are five key steps to supporting positive wellbeing and these can be considered and planned for over the next few weeks or months of lockdown.

1. Connect

Evidence suggests that it is a fundamental human need to have relationships with others and that feeling close to, and valued by, other people is important to our emotional wellbeing.

Think about how you can build your networks to connect with other people today.

Could you:

  • Pick up the phone or use a social app to talk to someone instead of sending a text or email
  • Show an interest in someone else and ask them questions about what they have been enjoying doing lately
  • Get in touch with a friend that you haven’t seen in a while and ask them how they are
  • Keeping a social distance, make an effort to talk to a stranger as you are out doing your hour outdoor exercise

2. Learn

Learning and development are key to healthy cognitive ability and can enhance self-esteem and confidence. Identifying aspirations and setting goals has been strongly associated with higher levels of wellbeing.

Learning and developing new skills will promote mental health and wellbeing.

Could you:

  • Read a non fiction book or autobiography of someone who inspires you
  • Watch a documentary and try to remember 5 facts that you learnt
  • Find out about a country of interest to you and research the culture, the history, the festivals and the language… could you plan a visit when the restrictions are lifted?
  • Set a task to learn one thing a day… it doesn’t have to be a huge task, how about; a new word, a fact, a word in another language, a new route for your daily walk

3. Take notice

Being aware and taking notice is a skill that we all have and that can be practiced often to build up our ability to raise our levels of awareness and manage situations more effectively. Taking notice of how we feel in different situation can support us to understand our actions and behaviours better and form more constructive and supportive behaviours in future to deal with difficult situation.

Think about how often you get to really enjoy the magic moments of your life and appreciate the surroundings you live in.

Could you:

  • Take some time to identify situations that make you happy and those that cause you distress both at this time of restrictions and before them… consider how you can plan for more of the happy times now and after lockdown.
  • Take some time to really enjoy your lunch and consider the texture and flavours in your food… savour the taste by chewing thoroughly before swallowing.
  • Think about the sensation of your feet making contact with the ground as you take each step on your outdoor daily walk… Really take time to appreciate the smells, sights and sounds you encounter of the journey.
  • Think about someone in your life who makes you happy and send gratification through your thoughts or giving them a call or text to let them know you are thinking of them… think about all the wonderful aspects of the relationship and smile at the memories you share.

4. Be active

Evidence suggests that regular physical activity can have a big impact on mood and potentially lower rates of depression and anxiety. The good news is, it doesn’t have to be intense for you to feel the benefits, even a little walk can lift your mood.

Think about small steps you can start today to build up your exercise routines over time.

Could you:

  • Park you car further away from the doors when you go shopping so you have to take a few more steps
  • Start the day with some simple stretches and see if you can build them up over time
  • Take a short walk at lunchtime and get some fresh air
  • Get active with one of the many free online classes
  • Do 10 swats whilst waiting e.g. for the kettle to boil, during the ad breaks etc

5. Give

The feel good feeling that we get when we give a gift to another person is often far greater than when receive a gift and getting involved in social and community events often raises individuals happiness levels.

Research into actions for promoting happiness has shown that committing an act of kindness once a week over a six-week period is associated with an increase in wellbeing.

Could you:

  • Carry out a random act of kindness for someone in your life e.g. send a card or flowers to someone you can’t see due to social distancing or do something nice for someone in your household such as run them a bath
  • Offer an hour a week to volunteering for a charity that is making wellbeing telephone calls to lonely people such as Age UK’s Digital Buddy Scheme
  • Help someone to achieve something they are struggling with… you could ask your colleagues if there is anything that you can help with or support a tenant to access support from a service or charity that they didn’t know about.