Stress, anxiety and depression

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Five steps to mental wellbeing

Evidence suggests there are five steps we can all take to improve our mental wellbeing.

If you give them a try, you may feel happier, more positive and able to get the most from life.

What is mental wellbeing?

Sarah Stewart-Brown, professor of public health at the University of Warwick and a wellbeing expert, says: "Feeling happy is a part of mental wellbeing. But it’s far from the whole.

"Feelings of contentment, enjoyment, confidence and engagement with the world are all a part of mental wellbeing. Self-esteem and self-confidence are, too.

"So is a feeling that you can do the things you want to do. And so are good relationships, which bring joy to you and those around you.

"Of course, good mental wellbeing does not mean that you never experience feelings or situations that you find difficult,” says Professor Stewart-Brown. "But it does mean that you feel you have the resilience to cope when times are tougher than usual."

It can help to think about "being well" as something you do, rather than something you are. The more you put in, the more you are likely to get out.

"No-one can give wellbeing to you. It's you who has to take action," says Professor Stewart-Brown.

Five steps to mental wellbeing

Below are five things that, according to research, can really help to boost our mental wellbeing: 

  • Connect – connect with the people around you: your family, friends, colleagues and neighbours. Spend time developing these relationships. Learn more in Connect for mental wellbeing.
  • Be active – you don't have to go to the gym. Take a walk, go cycling or play a game of football. Find an activity that you enjoy and make it a part of your life. Learn more in Get active for mental wellbeing.
  • Keep learning – learning new skills can give you a sense of achievement and a new confidence. So why not sign up for that cooking course, start learning to play a musical instrument, or figure out how to fix your bike? Find out more in Learn for mental wellbeing.
  • Give to others – even the smallest act can count, whether it's a smile, a thank you or a kind word. Larger acts, such as volunteering at your local community centre, can improve your mental wellbeing and help you build new social networks. Learn more in Give for mental wellbeing.
  • Be mindful – be more aware of the present moment, including your thoughts and feelings, your body and the world around you. Some people call this awareness "mindfulness". It can positively change the way you feel about life and how you approach challenges. Learn more in Mindfulness for mental wellbeing.

Listen to some audio guides to boost your mood.

Page last reviewed: 06/01/2016

Next review due: 06/01/2018

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Media last reviewed: 12/05/2016

Next review due: 12/05/2018