Monday 15 June 2015

Five Ways to Wellbeing

Have you heard about the  Five Ways to Wellbeing? We wanted to find out more in our team, so decided to ask Sophia Bird. Sophia is a Principal Health Promotion Specialist in the Powys Public Health team, and amongst other things, leads on mental health promotion for the team. We asked her:

What are the Five Ways to Wellbeing and where has the idea come from?

Sophia Bird
Well, the New Economics Foundation was commissioned, a few years ago, as part of the Foresight project, to research the key factors influencing well-being. NEF was asked to identify these key factors and then turn them into a simple, understandable resource containing actions that can be undertaken by almost anyone within their everyday lives. What they came up with is the Five Ways to Wellbeing. They found that those people who were active in 5 particular areas of their life tended to live happier and healthier lives. Furthermore, the research showed that by building the Five Ways to Wellbeing into daily routines, people could add around 7.5 years to their lives. More recently, The Children’s Society published a report showing that the Five Ways applies equally to children and young people, though being creative is more applicable for them than giving.

So, why not use the plan to see how much you are doing and whether some areas could do with a little more action?

Or, for those of you who are more electronically minded, you can download an app that will give you reminders about the goals you set yourself and some other ideas of things you can do for you. The app is called Five Ways to Wellbeing and was developed by Somerset County Council.

And let me know what you think and how you are getting on.

So, within the mental health team here at PAVO, we decided to explore what the Five Ways meant to us personally.

1. Connect

If I’m honest, one of the reasons I enjoy volunteering at The Quilt Association in Llanidloes so much is because it immerses me in a community of creative like-minded souls! Most of the time… we don’t always see eye to eye, but so long as it stays on good terms a bit of debate can be healthy anyway! Jackie

Another summer exhibition at The Quilt Association in Llanidloes

So - if I am being honest this is a difficult area for me - I am a bit of a hermit and not very comfortable socially unless I have a role or I am with people that I am very familiar with - having said that when I do really connect it is often very liberating - one reason I chose the Gestalt route for my therapy training was that it’s very experiential and gave me lots of opportunity for being open and vulnerable in a safe supported place - I still go to a personal development group four times a year. Jane

Yes, honesty is the challenge! So I feel I connect by being involved as a voluntary advocate for a person with mild learning disabilities. Spending time with her, listening, sharing, supporting and laughing together is huge and something that I enjoy doing. I also love to spend time with friends and family, particularly my children and my grandson who always helps me to ‘step out of my comfort zone’, for example, quad-biking and zip-flying!  Glynis

I’m involved in several hobby groups and clubs, where I connect to people who share similar interests. Sometimes I take an active role in the organisation of these groups and at other times, I prefer to leave all that to others so I can relax, go along to participate and have fun! I play football, attend various creative groups - writing, photography etc and regularly volunteer at large sports events. Although it isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, I love social media and I connect to many of my friends that way, some of whom now live on the other side of the world. I love to communicate in writing and so facebook has revolutionised my social life - in a good way!  Anne

2. Be active

Love walking my daughter’s dog across the fields at home and losing myself in the moment…..very lucky to live in such a beautiful place. Gardening is another love but I need to actively find more time (perhaps once the building project is complete) for improvement! Joined a running club that starts soon…..who knows?  Glynis

Anne (far left) with Hay St Mary's Ladies' Football Club. (Photo: Brecon & Radnor Express)

I have always had loads of energy and my parents soon realised that this was best channelled into sport rather than me climbing all over the furniture or hanging upside down from playground equipment! At the moment, I play football for Hay St Mary’s Ladies' Football Club and train regularly with them. I like to cycle - although the undulating landscape of Powys provides more of a challenge than London used to. Yoga I find relaxing and good to maintain suppleness. Every now and then, I think that I’m still a gymnast. Unfortunately, at my age, my somersault days are (probably) well and truly over!  Anne

Could do better! There are lots of active things I like doing - gardening, walking, yoga - but do I do them often or consistently enough - no!  Jane

My garden, on a steep hill overlooking the Upper Severn Valley, keeps me fit! I love growing my own fruit and veg despite the many challenges of hungry mice, slugs, blackbirds and pigeons, who all think I’m growing food for them!  Jackie

3. Take notice

The Montgomeryshire Canal - a familiar view for Glynis

I have been meditating for nearly a decade (not continuously - that would be silly) and I find that this helps me to relax and notice what my body is telling me: very useful if I start to rush around too much and neglect to rest as much I need to. Learning to pay attention to what my body is telling me is a lifelong task - and one I still grapple with.  Anne

One of the things I like to encourage is being open to our senses - so as often as possible I take a few minutes outside to close my eyes and listen, or notice the breeze.  Jane

I like to notice other creatures as well as the humans in my life… Sometimes it’s positive - my cat does smile, seriously… but slug slime can be maddening if it’s deposited all across a half-eaten lettuce in my veggie garden...  Jackie

4. Keep learning

My sister is currently learning Chinese! That’s a step too far for me… but this year I did learn how to graft apple trees and now have 10 baby trees - thanks to my former colleague Laura for the prunings to get me started!  Jackie

I always love learning - I am writing a dissertation now as part of my on-going learning as a therapist - working in the Mental Health team at PAVO always gives me lots to learn and follow up on - I like the feeling of learning new things and being excited by challenging ideas.  Jane

Stitchwort flowering by Jane's garden

Well, they don’t call me “three degrees Anne” for nothing. Actually, they don’t, but I do like to remind people about them fairly regularly, I admit! If there’s a course that aligns with my interests and I have time, then I’m on it. I like to really immerse myself in a new subject and learn about it in depth. Really, it’s all about learning about myself and hence more about others too. I’m fascinated by people - we’re such complicated and interesting creatures. There will always be new things to learn about how we think, how we interact with our environment and how different we are from each other, whilst at the same time all being fundamentally human. And one day, I really will start that PhD...  Anne

Love learning (in all forms)… thinking of signing up to a clinical nutritional course next September…..well, watch this space!!   Glynis

5. Be creative and give

Love to travel down to London to spend time with my eldest son or over to Shropshire to see my daughter. Miss seeing my youngest son who has just returned from Canada and is currently based in Germany….but the summer is fast approaching!  Glynis

I’ve got eight grandchildren - so no shortage of opportunities for giving birthday presents! I also support a number of local and national charities.  Jane

Time is my most precious commodity I think. I don’t give enough time to family and friends, especially those living far away, so here’s hoping to make a better effort in future. (Starting to use WhatsApp on my phone recently probably doesn’t count….)  Jackie

I’ve been a volunteer in sport for most of my adult life and this is one of the ways that I give back. I love helping people. I like to create safe and relaxed environments where people can fully express themselves and have fun. I also volunteer in mental health and for various causes that align with my values. I think, for me, a big challenge is making sure that I don’t give too much of my energy to other people and to make sure that I look after myself properly too. Spending time on ourselves isn’t selfish, especially for those of us who work so hard to look after other people. Sometimes I need to remind myself of this.  Anne

Cat or tiger....? Jackie's feline friend...

What do you think about the Five Ways to Wellbeing? Let us know in the comments box below.


  1. Delightful blog; great team building initiative to collaborate on a blog like this. - @DangerousMere

  2. Hi @Dangerous Mere

    Glad you enjoyed the blog post. We had great fun writing it together, and hope to collaborate on future posts so keep checking by.

    Many thanks for commenting.