Ah, hello February! From client conversations and online interactions over the last few weeks, January has been a bit tough. Whether it’s ‘too much month and not enough money’, the rigours of ‘Dry January’ or ‘Veganuary’, or simply the fact it’s dark and rainy, the month seemed to last a lot longer than its 31 allotted days.
So it’s a new month and I’m encouraging my clients – and my friends – to top up their wellbeing. Back in 2008, the New Economics Foundation proposed that there were five evidence-based actions we could all take to boost our wellbeing.
‘No man is an island‘ wrote John Donne but we’re all aware of the problem of loneliness in society. Forming connections – that is, building relationships – is key to our wellbeing, whether that’s in the workplace, with our neighbours or making time to see family and friends. For those of us who work alone, that can sometimes be a challenge and it’s an area I make a conscious effort to address.
Two: be active
Incorporating some kind of physical activity into our day demonstrably boosts mental health. I find that the short days and long dark nights of Winter can bring me down so in January, I committed to getting outside for a walk for half an hour every single day, whatever the weather. I succeeded on 29 out of 31 days in January (if you’re wondering whether that means, I’ll give up on my goal as I failed last month, you need to read last my previous post – should you quit if it isn’t perfect?) and it definitely improved my mental energy each day.
Three: take notice
This one is never a struggle for me – I was born curious and reflective! If those aren’t your natural qualities, try them out. When you’re on a bus or a train, instead of reading a book or scrolling through Instagram, look out of the window and see what’s out there. Look around at your fellow passengers and wonder about them: where might they work? Are those two together or do they just happen to be sitting next to each other? Rather than grabbing a bite to eat whilst you work, take twenty minutes or so to step away and concentrate on nothing but eating your lunch: really savour it. As you go about your day noticing what’s going on externally and internally, allow yourself time to ask yourself what you can learn from your ‘noticings’.
Four: keep learning
When was the last time you acquired a new skill? Maybe it’s something as simple as cooking a new dish each weekend. Perhaps you’d like to re-ignite a childhood passion – tap-dancing, model-making, magic tricks. If you’re headed abroad for work or leisure, download a free app to help you pick up a few key phrases (you can even learn High Valyrian if you’re a fan of Game of Thrones). Learning something new fosters a feeling of progress, can build confidence, may help you meet others, and it’s fun.
In Our Mutual Friend, Dickens writes ‘No one is useless in this world who lightens the burden of it for any one else.’
Whether we give time or resources, giving to others in some way is fulfilling, rewarding and makes a difference. That’s got to be good for our wellbeing!
Maybe January wasn’t a tough month for you: however, I’m sure that there have been times when you have felt the need to top up your personal wellbeing. I hope that these five actions can contribute to your reserves.
Today’s pebble for your ponderings: could you do with topping up your wellbeing? Which of these five actions will you try out this week?
Turning over pebbles is the blog of Thinking Space Coaching.
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