Have you heard about the 5 ways to wellbeing? Here at community connections we think they give people a really simple and useful way of thinking about how they could make small changes in their lives to make themselves feel happier and improve their mental health. Back in 2008 the New Economics Foundation (NEF) introduced the 5 ways to wellbeing and they have since been adopted by various organisations in the UK to inform their work and inspire people to make positive behavioural changes.
This is the first in a series of features we will be doing here on the Community Connections blog about the 5 ways to wellbeing, and when better to start than on World Mental Health Day! In each post we will outline the point of discussion (one of the ways to wellbeing), spend a little time thinking about how it might have a positive impact on someone’s wellbeing and also give some indication about how our work in the Community Connections project connects with it.
So without further ado let’s get cracking! We are going to start with “Connect”.
This is basically about making the most of people around you, developing human relationships and ties to others. Whether they are family, friends, people at work, or other people in your life, you will find that by investing time in your relationships with people you will feel enriched and better supported.
So why does connecting with people have such a positive impact on wellbeing? There are several reasons for this but two of them really stand out. The first is the fact that human beings are social creatures. We are just made to be with other people, and our minds crave the company of others. Have a think about the happiest moments of your life and ask yourself how many of those moments were dependent on other people or their actions. It is quite a lot, isn’t it? The majority probably!
The second reason that connecting with people has a positive effect on wellbeing is that people are our support networks. If we start to have a wobble mentally or if we have a bad day, what can pick us up more quickly and effectively than the company of others? Ever felt better after moaning about a bad day on the phone with a friend? Ever noticed how getting something off your chest can make the world of difference? This is why staying connected to the people around you is so important.
Here at Community Connections we take staying connected very seriously. Earlier in the year I wrote about the need for befrienders in the borough, and befrienders continue to make incredibly valuable contributions to helping isolated people feel more connected. In nearly everything we do we are helping people stay connected and make new connections with others. Our development work with voluntary groups is all about building capacity within communities to enable people to support each other more, and every time someone goes with one of our facilitators to a new lunch club or exercise class they are expanding their own support network.
So have a think about your own networks and how you could expand them. Make a point of ringing an old friend once a week, or connect with someone online. You’ll be surprised how good it makes you feel!
Post by Henry