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The concept of well-being comprises two main elements: feeling good and functioning well.
Feelings of happiness, contentment, enjoyment, curiosity and engagement are characteristic of someone who has a positive experience of their life.
The first study in the UK to measure well-being estimated that only 14% of the population has a high level of well-being. A further 14% reported to have very low well-being so no matter how you are feeling you are not alone.
A range of factors determine an individual’s level of personal well-being but evidence indicates that the things we do and the way we think can have the greatest impact.
The Five Ways to Wellbeing are a set of evidence-based actions developed by the New Economics Foundation aimed at enhancing an individual’s personal wellbeing.
There is strong evidence that indicates that feeling close to, and valued by, other people 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 wellbeing and for acting as a buffer against mental ill health for people of all ages.
Regular physical activity is associated with lower rates of depression and anxiety across all age groups. Exercise is essential for slowing age-related cognitive decline and for promoting well-being.
Studies have shown that being aware of what is taking place in the present directly enhances well-being and savouring ‘the moment’ can help to reaffirm life priorities. Heightened awareness also enhances self-understanding and allows for positive choices based on personal values and motivations.
Continued learning through life enhances self-esteem and encourages social interaction and a more active life. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the opportunity to engage in work or educational activities particularly helps to lift older people out of depression. The practice of setting goals, which is related to adult learning in particular, has been strongly associated with higher levels of wellbeing.
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 wellbeing.
To implement this into your daily life you are invited to take a moment to consider these activities; Connect, Be Active, Take Notice, Keep Learning and Give. How often do you do these in your daily life? Consider taking the activity that you do least frequently and start finding a way to implement this into your day. Remember; you can do more than one at a time. For example, try listening to a podcast to learn something new whilst walking to work or start a conversation at the bus stop. Small changes start to make a big difference.
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