Scientific evidence points to five steps that we can take to improve our mental wellbeing. If you give them a try, you may feel happier, more positive and able to get the most from your life.

Your mental health is important. Some mental illnesses, such as depression and anxiety, are common. If you have such an illness, it’s important to get the right treatment.

Connect

There is strong evidence that indicates that feeling close to, and valued by, other people is a fundamental human need and one that contributes to functioning well in the world.

It’s clear that social relationships are critical for promoting wellbeing and for acting as a buffer against mental ill health for people of all ages.

With this in mind, try to do something different today and make a connection.

  • Talk to someone instead of sending an email
  • Speak to someone new
  • Ask how someone’s weekend was and really listen when they tell you
  • Put five minutes aside to find out how someone really is
  • Give a colleague a lift to work or share the journey home with them.

Be active

Regular physical activity is associated with lower rates of depression and anxiety across all age groups.

Exercise is essential for slowing age-related cognitive decline and for promoting well-being.

But it doesn’t need to be particularly intense for you to feel good - slower-paced activities, such as walking, can have the benefit of encouraging social interactions as well providing some level of exercise.

Today, why not get physical? Here are a few ideas:

  • Take the stairs not the lift
  • Go for a walk at lunchtime
  • Walk into work - perhaps with a colleague – so you can ‘connect’ as well
  • Get off the bus one stop earlier than usual and walk the final part of your journey to work
  • Organise a work sporting activity
  • Have a kick-about in a local park
  • Do some ‘easy exercise’, like stretching, before you leave for work in the morning
  • Walk to someone’s desk instead of calling or emailing.

Take notice

Reminding yourself to ‘take notice’ can strengthen and broaden awareness.

Studies have shown that being aware of what is taking place in the present directly enhances your well-being and savouring ‘the moment’ can help to reaffirm your life priorities.

Heightened awareness also enhances your self-understanding and allows you to make positive choices based on your own values and motivations.

Take some time to enjoy the moment and the environment around you. Here are a few ideas:

  • Get a plant for your workspace
  • Have a ‘clear the clutter’ day
  • Take notice of how your colleagues are feeling or acting
  • Take a different route on your journey to or from work
  • Visit a new place for lunch.

Learn

Continued learning through life enhances self-esteem and encourages social interaction and a more active life.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that the opportunity to engage in work or educational activities particularly helps to lift older people out of depression.

The practice of setting goals, which is related to adult learning in particular, has been strongly associated with higher levels of wellbeing.

Why not learn something new today? Here are a few more ideas:

  • Find out something about your colleagues
  • Sign up for a class
  • Read the news or a book
  • Set up a book club
  • Do a crossword or Sudoku
  • Research something you’ve always wondered about
  • Learn a new word.

Give

Participation in social and community life has attracted a lot of attention in the field of wellbeing research.

Individuals who report a greater interest in helping others are more likely to rate themselves as happy.

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.


For more information

As one of Ireland’s largest charities, Extern provides confidential, non-judgemental emotional support for people of all ages who are experiencing feelings of anxiety, distress, or despair, and who are living with a mental illness.

Extern Reach Out

Reach Out by Extern operates a drop-in office from the Spectrum Centre, Shankill Road, Belfast to individuals whose lives have been impacted by substance or alcohol misuse, suicide, self-harm or mental health issues.

You can drop-in and see us whenever you want between 9am-5pm, Monday to Friday.

You can call us on 07442 533165

You can WhatsApp us on 07442 533165 and we’ll get back to you.

You can email us at [email protected]

Community Crisis Intervention Service (CCIS)

Based in Derry/Londonderry the pilot Community Crisis Intervention Service (CCIS), is a community-led initiative, which responds to individuals who are observed to be in distress and potentially vulnerable, and who may be at risk of suicidal behaviour.

The pilot service operates between 8pm on Thursday through to 8am on Sunday.

You can call us on 028 7126 2300

Lifeline

If you or someone you know needs help, you can telephone Lifeline free at any time. Lifeline is a crisis response helpline available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to people in Northern Ireland. It offers immediate help over the telephone if you, or someone you know, is in distress or despair.

Telephone: 0808 808 8000

If you have seriously harmed yourself – for example, by taking a drug overdose – call 999 for an ambulance or go straight to A&E.

 

Or ask someone else to call 999 or take you to A&E.