If you’re finding yourself feeling stressed or low this summer, evidence suggests that focusing on these five steps can give you the power to improve how you feel. If you give them a try, you may feel happier, more positive and able to get the most from life:
1) Connect – work on the links between yourself and your friends, family, colleagues and your community. Support from others can help us to cope, but sometimes we need to take the first step to build and strengthen those connections. Try to do something different today and make a connection:
- Talk to someone instead of sending an email or text
- Strike up a conversation and speak to someone new, even if it’s just in the lift, at the bus stop or in the supermarket
- Put five minutes aside to find out how someone really is – really listen
- Call that friend/family member that you never seem to get around to
2) Be active – from a workout that raises endorphins, to a stroll that gets you out of the house – being active can be good for your mood on so many levels, so try to find a physical activity or sport which you love and make it part of your life. Regular physical activity is associated with lower rates of depression and anxiety across all age groups. People who gradually increase the amount that they are doing, or work on balancing the tasks are necessary with the ones they enjoy, can build their sense of control and see their future in a more positive light. So, today, why not get physical? Here are a few ideas:
- Take the stairs not the lift
- Go for a walk at lunchtime – even if it’s for 5 minutes, get away from your desk/work space
- Walk or cycle rather than driving short distances
- 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 with family /friends
- Take the dog for that evening stroll – if you don’t have a pet that likes a lead, take yourself for a short stroll!
3) Keep learning – many of us are looking for something to improve our confidence, or add value to our lives. Learning something new and dedicating time to an interest can help you do just that. Why not learn something new today? Here are a few ideas top get you started:
- Find out something about your colleagues, friends or family
- Do the paper’s crossword each day
- Read the news or a new book
- Look up one fact a day: For example: ‘Dreamt’ is the only the English word ending in MT….bet you didn’t know that before reading this – you’re trying to think of another now!
- Research something you’ve always wondered about
- Learn a new word
4) Give to others – this could mean taking the time to make a small gesture to someone, to volunteering for a charity – however you choose to give to others, the rewards can be great, boosting your self-esteem and building your social networks who can support you. Research has shown that committing an act of kindness once a week over a six-week period is associated with an increase in wellbeing.
- Open the door for someone
- Give someone a compliment
- Help someone with their shopping to the car/hold the lift/help a mum with their buggy
- Ask someone if you can help with a task they’re doing
- Look up local charities which interest you and see if you can volunteer for them
5) Be mindful – take some time to stop and think about what is happening in the here and now. You can build this awareness by using all of your senses to focus on what is going on around you, and by picking up on what your thoughts and feelings are at the time. Take some time to enjoy the moment and the environment around you. Here are a few ideas:
- Notice the little things; the colour of the sky, the rain drops on the window, the smell of that morning coffee or the freshly cut grass
- Notice sounds; tune into the sounds around you, just for a moment – what can you hear?
- Have a ‘clear the clutter’ day – be it your desk/room/garage/that draw you store all that stuff in – clearing out can help us de-clutter our minds
- Take a different route on a journey you take regularly – look at different things
- Visit a new place for lunch or try a new food when you go shopping
For free support from a trained practitioner to help you put these steps into practise, or for help if self-help techniques are not working to improve your wellbeing, you can find out more and make a self-referral to us by visiting www.talktogetherbromley.co.uk or calling us on 0300 003 3000.
(Please note that Talk Together Bromley is for those with a Bromley GP, but if you are from a different area your GP can help you contact your local equivalent.)
To find out more information about these steps, please visit http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/stress-anxiety-depression or http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/Pages/improve-mental-wellbeing.aspx
Click here to read more about the evidence behind the Five Ways to Wellbeing.