The Five Ways to Wellbeing is a framework, developed by the New Economics Foundation (NEF), which is designed to improve the UK’s mental health. The framework comprises five key health messages based on evidence and aimed at boosting wellbeing.
The five health messages are:
- Be active
- Take notice
- Keep learning
The promotion of wellbeing is a core value of The Student Housing Company, so we’ve put together a series of blog posts with tips based on the Five Ways to Wellbeing. In this post, we look at the third of the NEF’s messages: take notice.
What do we mean by ‘take notice’?
You’ve probably noticed that the ‘always-on’ world in which we live nowadays feels noisier and busier than ever. In that kind of environment, and when you’ve got studies and deadlines to juggle, it can be easy to find yourself feeling a bit isolated, almost like you’re in a bubble. This can mean that you stop noticing things about the world around you, and lose a little bit of your connection with your surroundings. ‘Taking notice’ relates to a concept called mindfulness and is all about being aware of your surroundings and connecting with the here and now. Studies show that being present in the moment can have massive benefits for your mental health and help you reaffirm life priorities.
Try a mindfulness exercise
If the idea of connecting with your surroundings feels a bit unusual, or you’re not sure where to start with mindfulness, here’s a quick exercise you can do to get started in a really easy way. You can do this anywhere you want: outdoors, in your room (maybe not the lecture hall)!
- Take a moment to close your eyes and bring your attention to your breathing
- Now, open your eyes and look around for five things you can see. What do they look like? What thoughts or feelings does looking at them trigger? Tell yourself about what you can see.
- Next, listen out for five things you can hear. Again, describe the sounds, the thoughts they trigger and how they make you feel, to yourself. Focus as much as you can on truly listening to what you can hear.
- Repeat the above two steps for things you can smell and things you can touch. You could combine these with something like a book. What do its pages smell like? Is the cover wrinkled or smooth? Put all of your attention on being in the moment and connecting with your surroundings and the objects in them.
Pick up a project
Heightened awareness has been shown to enhance self-understanding and make it easier to make clear-headed decisions and choices. A good way of establishing longer periods of heightened awareness is by focusing on a task or hobby that will provide a distraction for any worries whirring in your head. And the good news is, the activities can be anything you want them to be. Computer games? Amazing. Jigsaw? Do it. Growing and nurturing your own houseplant? Brilliant for your mental health. Having a project, or just something you enjoy doing, outside of study and work is a really good way of living in the moment, and stops your periods of downtime being eaten up by thinking about negative things.
More tips for taking notice
Take notice today, enjoy the moment and connect with your environment. Try these:
- Give the above mindfulness exercise, or something similar, a go
- Buy yourself a houseplant and start looking after it
- Tidy up your room and clear out any old junk you don’t need
- Deliberately take a different route around town or campus
- Lock your phone and look up a bit more - notice what you see!
With the January blues in full swing, we want to show some extra love. We’re running our own #5WaysToWellbeing competition this month, offering the chance to win the ultimate night in for you and your flat. Click here to find out more!
The Student Housing Company, at the heart of student wellbeing.