Today, it feels more important than ever to find those little things that contribute to a sense of wellness. The Five Ways to Wellbeing is a set of mental health messages designed by the New Economics Forum (NEF), all of which are aimed at improving the mental health and wellbeing of the wider population. Exploring and adopting these ideas might put you on the path to positive feelings!
The five pillars that make up the Ways to Wellbeing are:
- Be active
- Take notice
- Keep learning
Working to support student 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 fifth of the NEF’s messages: give.
What does it mean to give?
In this context, the concept of ‘giving’ can have many different meanings, depending on the individual, and it doesn’t have to be linked to things like making donations to charity. Sure, contributing money to good causes is one thing you can do, but it’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to giving. You can give your time, give assistance, give advice and generally give of yourself to others; the form giving takes is different for everyone, because everyone is different. It’s about finding the type of giving that is right for you and those around you.
Studies have shown that being altruistic - or selfless / more concerned with the needs of others - can have a significant impact on your health and sense of wellbeing (even down to making blood donations feel less painful, according to one piece of research!). Giving to charity provides an obvious outlet for altruism, providing a genuine opportunity to put others before yourself. A lot of charities focus on generating cash donations from members of the public but your giving needn’t always take that form. Lots of smaller, local charities place enormous value on people who are willing to give their time or assistance - an extra pair of hands that can make the world of difference to organisations like this. Think about what you might be able to offer in the context of volunteering. It might be lending a hand at a fundraising event, working at a homeless shelter, or perhaps there are other skills you could offer, such as social media support. Helping others in this way is not only beneficial to them, but will be rewarded and enriching for you too.
Other ways of giving
It doesn't just have to be charities that you give to. Closer to home, there might be others around you who would value your help too. Two of the things you can most easily give to others are your time, and your support (either through listening, or being a shoulder to cry on, or just being there to offer advice). Again, giving of yourself and putting other people first is often valued more than you might think. Maybe you’ve got a friend who has been putting a task off for some time and would really appreciate an extra pair of hands to get it done - drop them a message and offer your support. Sometimes, it’s even simpler than that. Look for opportunities to listen to - and be there for - your friends or family members. You never know when the chance might crop up, and being there to help will contribute to your sense of wellbeing as well as theirs.
Random acts of kindness
Ever heard of the kindness of strangers? You have the chance to repay it. One exercise to try is to intentionally do at least one kind thing every week for people you’ve never met. Every day provides opportunities to be kind, from simple things such as holding a door open for someone or letting someone go first in the queue, right up to bigger acts of kindness that will last long in the memory of their recipients. According to Mind, 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.
Top tips for giving
Want to feel the benefit of being a bit more altruistic? Try these today:
- Pick up the phone to someone who might need it
- Join a community group
- Do one kind thing for a stranger
- Sign up to support a charity
- Offer to lend a hand with something your mate has been putting off
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.