• Rachel Ireland

Creative Ways to Wellbeing

The ‘Five Ways to Wellbeing’ statements were developed by the New Economics Foundation (NEF) and launched back in 2008. Since then, they have been integrated, adapted and shared by a vast number of organisations including the NHS, mental health charities such as MIND, mutual aid groups, schools, colleges and businesses.

It could be argued that the ‘Five Ways’ have become even more relevant during the pandemic and indeed, the NEF published further guidance on how they can be interpreted to assist with the challenges of isolation, loneliness and fear.

'Five Ways to Wellbeing at a time of social distancing' - NEF

In this article we will suggest a number of activities that meet with one or more of these recommendations, but first, an overview of the ‘Five Ways to Wellbeing’.

1. Connect

Healthy relationships are vital for making us feel loved and needed, to give us someone to talk to or to ask for help

· With your family – sit at the table to eat together, ask questions, share what’s happened during your day. Less time in front of the TV or other devices will make more time for real connection.

· With your friends – text or call them just to ask how they are. Suggest a walk if possible. Video calls have been a lifesaver this year but nothing beats a face-to-face conversation.

· With your community – volunteer for a local group, offer to help a neighbour with their shopping, give your skills or expertise free of charge.

2. Be active

· Not only a great way to look after your body, physical exercise will improve your mental health too. It can help you to feel better about yourself, process your thoughts and emotions and increase positivity about the future.

· The key is to find something that works for you; something you enjoy and are, therefore, more likely to do on a regular basis.

3. Take Notice

· Pay attention to the present moment – both within yourself (your thoughts and feelings) and to the world around you (other people, nature).

· Learn to pause and to appreciate regularly as you go about your day.

4. Keep Learning

· Learning new skills, whatever our age, can improve self-confidence and self-esteem. Most importantly it can instil a sense of purpose, a focus, a goal.

· Keep it simple – trying out a new recipe, starting a new hobby, reading a book or reigniting an old interest – these are just as valid as enrolling for a qualification or committing to a course.

5. Give

· Kindness towards others is one of the most powerful things humans can do; both for ourselves and for others. It can create a sense of reward, self-worth and connection.

· Give your time, listen, help, compliment, smile.

NHS guide to the Five Steps

I prefer to think of these statements as intentions we can begin to introduce, to enhance our lives, rather than as resolutions that we're likely to get frustrated at ourselves for failing at. These are not targets or goals, but areas for growth'. Gentle reminders to pause, reflect and move forward. An invitation to not just survive in life, but to thrive.

Combining this guidance with the evidence that creative activities can have such a positive impact on our mental health and our approach here at The Creative Map CIC that creativity is for everyone, here are some ideas we’ll be testing out over the coming weeks.

1. Put your headphones on and listen to a new genre of music during your daily walk (Be Active, Keep Learning)

2. Use a Night Sky app to identify some stars and planets then write a poem or short story about them (Take Notice, Keep Learning)

3. Make a home-made birthday card for a friend (Connect, Give)

4. Take a walk in your local countryside picking up litter – take a photo of the improvement (Be Active, Take Notice, Give)

5. Keep a Gratitude Log for a month, finding new things each day to appreciate – see our blog on journaling here (Take Notice)

6. Play a family quiz – try these – and learn some new facts as you spend time together (Connect, Take Notice, Keep Learning)

7. Copy or print out some of your favourite photos and make a collage to display (Connect, Take Notice)

8. Cut out photos and quotes that inspire you from a magazine and make a Vision Board (Take Notice)

9. Pick up an old hobby – a musical instrument, painting, or anything that makes you feel like you (Take Notice, Keep Learning)

10. Offer your time and skills to a local or online support group (Connect, Give)

If you share any of your creations on social media please feel free to tag us @thecreativemapcic

You can find more details about workshops, courses & mentoring here on the website.

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