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  • Writer's pictureSteve Watts

5 Ways to Wellbeing ...

Updated: Jan 21, 2020

At some point in our lives we will all need a helping hand … and that hand could come from a variety of sources including our parents and grandparents, our siblings and friends, our teachers and work colleagues, a mentor or coach, a doctor or nurse, neighbour or relative and so on. Quite often of course, we also have the inner resources to resolve our own issues, and can draw upon support to help us implement our strategies. This is where a coach can become a very helpful asset because coaches don't usually give answers, instead preferring to help their clients uncover the answers themselves.

Self-coaching is very empowering and the NHS has identified 5 Ways to Wellbeing that can help us identify approaches that could be part of a self-coaching strategy. The suggestion is that by implementing these approaches we can maintain a high level of well-being not only for ourselves, but also by supporting others to follow likewise. The 5 ways are Connect; Be Active; Take Notice; Keep Learning; and Give.

Connect - it is obvious that spending time with other people will help address issues of loneliness, but connecting is a two way process and we must consciously invest in it to make it work. The source of potential connections in our lives is vast, but quite often we are too busy to invest in them. The immediate source for many people, but not all, is family. We also have in most cases neighbours, as well as friends and for many people work colleagues. We can always make the step to befriend somebody who is alone, pop in to see them, invite them for a cuppa, offer to do some shopping and so on. Thus, we can take steps to stay connected ourselves, but we can also take steps to help somebody we know who is alone.

Stay connected by joining in events such as this reading group in a local bookshop in Sunderland

Be Active - I have already written about the importance of being active, especially by walking, and the benefits this has for our wellbeing. Being active can come in many forms and is a great way to be connected if you are active with other people. Activity doesn't have to be high intensity and can include walking, yoga, swimming, chair-based exercises and so on. Wherever possible the activity should be completed outside so that you gain the benefit of fresh air and sunshine, even if only for a few minutes. A feeling of belonging and connection can come when exercising with others.

Go for a walk and enjoy the fresh air, sunshine and sights, as with this image of Blyth Beach in Northumberland

Take Notice - I think many people would admit to being too busy to take notice, dashing as we do from one appointment to the next, with our heads down or eyes focussed on the road ahead. My mother's favourite poem, which she could recite from childhood memory, was 'What is this life if, full of care, we have no time to stand and stare.' She encouraged me to slow down and look around at the marvels of the world on my door step. Even the mundane and ordinary has beauty and as we walk down a busy high street quite often the upper stories of buildings reveal all sorts about them from architectural delights to clues to a former purpose. I find as I walk along the street I have to take care because many pedestrians have their heads down looking at a screen and are unaware of my presence and the imminent collision awaiting them, forcing me to take evasive action!

When out and about take time to notice the seasons and time of day, such as the beautiful winter sunlight as dusk descends on the town walls of Berwick upon Tweed

Keep Learning - it has never been easier to continue the learning process long after formal education has ended and carry it on throughout our entire lives. Whilst acknowledging that not everybody has access to, nor the funds for, the 'new' technology it certainly has the capacity to open our eyes to the rest of the world. Children are born with innate curiosity about the world and the most common word a five year old will say is 'Why?' and unless we monitor their movements carefully will go off and explore their environment by themselves oblivious to the risks. That curiosity should never leave us and if we do it with others, we can connect and take notice at the same time. If we don't have access to the internet and the new technology there are libraries and for those unable to visit them, home visits and audio books, including talking newspapers, not to mention the radio, so our thirst for learning never need be stifled!

Never stop learning and with a laptop, a notebook and a cup of coffee you can continue to learn anywhere, including whilst on holiday in Greece

Give - when we hear the phrase 'giving' the temptation is to think 'Oh no not more money' but of course there are many ways to give. Giving could be as simple as smiling and lighting up somebody's day or giving of your time to help a neighbour or a charity. People are busy and might think that not only do they not have the funds for giving, but are too busy to devote time as well, but offering to pick a neighbour's child up from school as you go to collect yours or to get some shopping for a poorly neighbour whilst you're out shopping for yourself are all forms of giving. There are so many ways to give that don't involve money and very little effort or time that it should be possible for even the busiest amongst us to give something.

Giving doesn't have to involve money and for organisations like Grace House in Sunderland time is the most valuable resource you can give

Many of us have the inner tools and resources to implement these five ways, but some people may need support to follow through on them and manage their introduction incrementally rather than in one go. A family member, good friend or colleague might be able to provide this help, but if not then a coach is ideally placed to support you to introduce these 'ways' into your life, plus any others you feel need addressing.

I have written about the importance of journaling elsewhere on my blog, but when implementing the 5 ways it would be a good idea to record your progress in a journal. Quite often the process of journaling offers insights that won't necessarily emerge by discussion or mental reflection alone. From experience there are at least two ways this happens when journaling. First of all patterns emerge as we look back on our journal entries; and secondly insights appear simultaneously on the page as we write. Terri, a member of a writing group I organised, summed this process up perfectly when she said that clarity 'just seemed to happen as I was writing, so writing and the thought occurred at the same time.'

Have a go at implementing the 'Five Ways' and let me know how you get on ...

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