If life or lockdown has had you feeling low lately, you’re not alone. In the last 12 months, many people have reported a decline in their mental wellbeing, according to the Mental Health Foundation.
But if lockdown has taught us anything, it’s that we each need to look after our health and wellbeing as a priority - now more than ever - and perhaps this new, slower pace of life presents an opportunity to restore a much-needed sense of balance and harmony to our lives.
In this article, we look at five ways to improve your wellbeing, as well as the steps you can take towards boosting your mental and physical health.
#1 KEEP CONNECTING
Conversations and connections are not just nice to have; they may be critical to our health. Research has shown that when you feel close to - and valued by - your family, friends, colleagues or acquaintances, your overall wellbeing improves; whether you’re 22 or 72.
If you can, make the time to have more conversations. Talk to a neighbour over the fence, chat to your local shopkeeper, or call someone you’d normally text or email. Check in on acquaintances, ask a friend or family member out on a walk, and find out how your colleagues are doing. If you’re looking to make new connections, explore local groups in your area or consider volunteering.
Maintaining connections, particularly during a pandemic, can seem anything but easy. Yet the benefits they bring to our mental and physical wellbeing can far outweigh the effort.
#2 STAY ACTIVE
Regular exercise is proven to help reduce depression and anxiety across every age range. In fact, the NHS reports that physical activity can also boost our self-esteem, enhance our mood and energy levels, improve our sleep quality and even reduce our risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Physical activity can also significantly reduce the risk of developing other major or chronic illnesses, like type 2 diabetes, cancer, heart disease, osteoarthritis and stroke.
Beyond stimulating mental and physical wellbeing, exercise opens up opportunities for social interaction. Schedule in time for a daily stroll, round up your friends for a game in the park, invite colleagues to try a fun group activity, walk into town for a coffee or head to your nearest green spaces; being out in the fresh air is always restorative.
#3 TAKE MINDFUL MOMENTS
We live in an age where we’re either thinking about what we need to do next, or ruminating over events that have happened in our recent or distant past. Few of us truly live ‘in the present’, and because of that, we miss out on enjoying all the little things that are happening in our life right now.
Research has shown that mindfulness, where you savour individual moments - however seemingly mundane - can greatly improve our wellbeing. It can also help you understand your values and motivations, and to make more positive choices as a result.
From tending to a houseplant or sorting out your cupboards to cooking a delicious meal or having a quiet coffee in your garden, take the time to be fully present in the moment.
#4 DON’T STOP LEARNING
Learning new things is an important part of living a full and active life. Whether you’re learning a career skill, getting to grips with a new sport or developing a hobby, research shows that setting and achieving learning goals improves our sense of wellbeing.
As well as having a positive effect on mental health challenges such as depression and low self-esteem, learning also brings opportunities to increase social interaction and make new connections.
Think about something you’ve always wanted to learn – whether it’s a new language or the basics of photography - and sign up for a class. Even if it’s online, there are often still opportunities to meet others. Stretching your mind with puzzles like Sudoku or getting involved in a book club are also beneficial.
#5 GIVE SOMETHING BACK
One of the easiest ways to improve our sense of wellbeing is to help others. In fact, studies into happiness have shown that people who take an interest in helping others are more likely to class themselves as ‘happy’ than those who don’t.
There are lots of ways to help others; donating your time at a local food bank or soup kitchen, signing up as an NHS Volunteer Responder, helping out a local charity, getting involved in a community garden or organising a litter pick in your area are great ways to give back.
But helping others needn’t mean committing hours of your time; research shows that just a small act of kindness each week can improve feelings of wellbeing after a month or two. Think about baking a cake for an elderly neighbour, sending flowers to a friend you haven’t seen in a while or simply sharing a few kind words with someone who needs to hear them. Every little helps.
#6 BONUS TIP (CBD)
Finally, did you know that organic CBD oil can improve your mental and physical wellbeing and support you in living a healthier lifestyle? Not only can CBD help to alleviate the symptoms of anxiety and depression, but it can also support heart health, reduce chronic pain and inflammation, and soothe aching muscles after exercise.
Here’s to a healthier and happier you!