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Five ways to mental wellbeing

This section discusses different ways of how you can support your mental wellbeing in five key areas.
Two hands holding a yellow flower
© UK Health Security Agency

The Government Office for Science recommends five ways to mental wellbeing. These are actions that you can take to improve your mental wellbeing by helping you feel more positive and get the most out of life. Consider which areas of your life offer opportunities to help yourself using these five steps, and look to make the most of these.

1. Connect with other people

Feeling close to, and valued by, other people around you is a fundamental human need and one that contributes to functioning well in the world. It’s clear that social relationships are critical for promoting mental wellbeing and for acting as a buffer against mental ill health. .

You can try the following things to build connections with others:

  • Start a conversation with a friend/ family member, or even someone you know but aren’t close with (for example, a colleague at work or an acquaintance)
  • Ask how someone’s day was and listen carefully when they tell you

2. Be active

Regular physical activity (if you are able to get active) is not only good for physical health, it can also improve mental wellbeing through raising your self-esteem, and helping you set and achieve goals. It can also positively influence your mood through chemical changes in your brain.

It doesn’t need to be particularly intense for you to feel good – slower-paced activities, such as walking, can have the added benefit of encouraging social interactions as well as providing some level of exercise. However, brisk walking will also be good for your physical health too.

The kind of activities that are right for you depend on your level of physical ability and the types of activity that appeal to you. Here are a few ideas of how to implement more physical activity into your routine:

  • Take the stairs not the lift
  • Get off the bus one stop earlier than usual and walk the final part of your journey
  • Have a kick-about in a local park or do some gardening
  • Build your strength, through stretching or carrying shopping. Why not try one of these home workouts today?
  • Find more tips on how to keep or get active here.

Many people with accessibility requirements can participate in regular physical activity; however, it’s important to consult with a healthcare professional to ensure that you do so safely. Here are a few resources that may be useful:

3. Take notice

Taking notice means being present in the moment, observing what’s beautiful or unusual in the world. It means being aware of our thoughts and feelings as they arise without getting lost in them. Be curious and try to see things with ‘new eyes’ in your everyday life and savour the moment. Reflect on your experiences and take some time to enjoy the environment around you. Here are a few ideas:

  • Take a different route on your journey to or from work
  • Visit an art exhibition or a cultural event
  • Practice mindfulness. You can try a breathing exercise here.
  • Be curious about the different cultures of colleagues, friends and acquaintances

4. Learn new skills

Continued learning throughout life enhances confidence, and encourages social interaction and a more active life. In addition, the practice of setting goals has been strongly associated with higher levels of wellbeing. Here are a few ideas:

  • Explore training opportunities through your work
  • Learn a new language
  • Set a new challenge for something new to try

5. Give to others

Participation in social and community life has attracted a lot of attention in the field of wellbeing research. Individuals who report a greater interest in helping others are more likely to rate themselves as happy.

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 mental wellbeing. Volunteering your time is a great example of giving to the community, and it can feel rewarding and create connections with people around you.


Being in a difficult situation can make us feel exhausted, so be realistic about what you can manage. Everyone has different things that bring them either stress or calm, so it can help to spend some time before a crisis listing activities that you enjoy and listing those activities that deplete your energy. You may like to read about ‘spoon theory’ and allocate your ‘spoons’ accordingly in a crisis. This could help you to ensure that you are both bearing in mind your limitations and finding time for activities that bring you pleasure or rest.

© UK Health Security Agency
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