Monday, 19 March 2018

Owen's 5 x 5 Ways of Wellbeing: Part 3

by Owen Griffkin
Mental Health Participation Support Worker

In Part 1 of my series I looked at how to Connect. Part 2 was all about Keep Learning.

Number 3 in our series on practical ways to follow the Five Ways to Wellbeing plan is Take Notice!

According to the mental health charity Mind reminding yourself to ‘take notice’ can strengthen and broaden awareness. The research shows that being aware of what is taking place in the present improves wellbeing. It’s thought that becoming more aware of your surroundings in turn leads you to become more self-aware, and allows you to have a better understanding of your motivations, and helps you make positive choices.

This might actually be the easiest of the five steps to implement, as it can be something as simple as changing your route to work/school run. So here are 5 ideas for you to try out yourself.

1. Leave your phone at home

This one is self explanatory - leaving your phone at home might mean that you aren’t wandering around checking email, being interrupted by a Facebook notification that is of no interest to you, or if you’re in a social situation you might engage more with your friends or colleagues. I do this a lot and it works a treat (admittedly I usually leave it by accident). Once you lose that 'no-phone' anxiety then it becomes quite enjoyable, and will help some of the other ideas in this article. Except for...

2. Bring your phone out with you

"What? But you just said leave it at home?? I’m confused!"

Yeah, phones are a big barrier to becoming aware of surroundings, but they do have a great feature, which can really help you notice the world around you. The camera. There was a recent challenge shared on social media which encouraged people to post 7 black and white photos in 7 days. Taking photos of your daily commute, using one of those fancy filters which seem to be the norm on all social media pics, really gives you a new eye on what’s around you, and allows you to maybe see something beautiful that wasn’t there before.

I had a quick go at this myself, and you can see a sample of my pics that I did around the photogenic offices of PAVO. Very arty.

3. Start a bullet journal

I recently started a bullet journal, after my partner and others raved about theirs for ages. It’s a simple idea; imagine a superpowered, creative, analogue diary. It’s simple to set up, and the more time you put into it, the more info you can pack into it and usefulness it can bring.

Bullet Journal by Eleanor Outram-Rees
My artistic talents are pretty low, so mine isn’t the most beautiful work ever, but I have seen examples of other people's that are creative and useful. As well as helping with future planning, which is a great help to wellbeing, it also allows you to record thoughts, ideas and feelings to reflect on later. 

It’s explained in much better detail by the creator Ryder Carroll on his website Bullet Journal.

Bullet Journal by Jessica Rose
There are also two great Facebook groups you can join for inspiration and advice: BuJo (Bullet Journal) Beginners and Bullet Journal Junkies UK.

4. Take a walk on the wild side

I usually drive my daughter to school due to time issues and the fact it is just that little bit too long to walk. However on the occasions when we do walk together it is a much happier time. We have longer conversations that we wouldn’t have in the car, and everything seems a bit less hectic. Even on my own, a walk instead of a drive leaves me feeling relaxed and helps with my mindfulness. SO if there is a journey you regularly make by car, that you could actually walk, give it a try every so often. Another tip is to change your route up, and go a way you don’t usually go to add extra ‘awareness points’.

5. Notice the seasons

I’m a city boy by birth and upbringing, and one of the things I’ve noticed and enjoyed most since moving to Powys is how much more noticable the changes in the seasons are. Take a walk and take stock of the landscape and nature, then repeat this over a period of time. Maybe you could even record it creatively, either by drawing, or writing about how it makes you feel. You can also combine this with the photo challenge, taking pictures of the same scene over time and building them up into your own personal work of art.

I really appreciate this ‘way to wellbeing’ as Powys is the perfect place to take comfort from your surroundings and there is always something or somewhere new to see. It’s a cheap and easy way to improve your wellbeing just by taking a step back and contemplating and reflecting on your own feelings. Now I’m off to go and look at all the fresh snowdrops and crocuses/croci and wait for spring to arrive properly.

Is that cup of coffee really blue....?

The Five Ways to Wellbeing was devised by the clever folk at the New Economics Foundation and is supported by Powys Teaching Health Board and Public Health Wales.

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