Mental health nurse Claire Gallagher continues her series on the five ways to wellbeing, introducing the importance of learning as part of our personal journeys.
As we continue to learn about the 5 Ways to Wellbeing, in this newsletter I wanted to talk about the action of Giving, or to Give. We know that Christmas time can be associated with the giving of gifts, and whilst that may bring some of us joy, I didn’t want to focus on that today. In fact, I don’t know about you, but the giving of gifts this year doesn’t feel hugely joyful for our family; it feels stressful and expensive!
So we have thought of ways to reduce the gifts with Secret Santas, and getting together for a walk rather than to exchange presents. When the New Economic Foundation came up with the 5 Ways to Wellbeing, they described Give as:
Do something nice for a friend, or a stranger.
Thank someone. Smile. Volunteer your time.
Join a community group.
Look out, as well as in.
Seeing yourself, and your happiness, linked to the wider community can be incredibly rewarding and creates connections with the people around you.
They don’t mention giving physical material gifts in their definition, instead they focus on what we can give to ourselves and others like time, words, a smile, and presence. Thinking about our roles in our running clubs as Mental Health Champions, we often give our time to organise #RunAndTalk events, sharing information about how our running club members can stay mentally healthy and well, or how to support someone who may be having some difficulties with their mental health and wellbeing.
Giving to others
Running and talking itself gives people a chance to offload and to be heard and understood; and if we can give some kind words of reassurance, a friendly face and smile, or simply just our presence, the run will help with wellbeing all round!
This particular way to wellbeing always makes me think of volunteering or giving my time for a running event like parkrun or a club race. Our running club the Almost Athletes organise a few races a year and our club pull together to fill the roster of marshals, runner registrations, sweeper, lead bike, and cake bakers (and more!). The atmosphere at these events amongst the cheerful band of volunteers is so fun and happy. Each task is easy but we can learn new skills and build confidence, working together and feeling like a valued team member.
I’m reminded of other 5 Ways to Wellbeing activities here in learn and connect; so by also giving our time, words, friendly smile and presence we are improving our wellbeing even further.
Giving to yourself
We don’t have to give to others either to feel the benefits. Just today I gave myself a chance to sit and drink a coffee in the quiet. I gave my body a chance to just rest for 10 minutes, my mind a chance to slow down and not think of anything important, and my batteries a chance to recharge. Being kind to ourselves, giving our bodies rest and recovery days from heavy running plans, making sure we give ourselves time to be active and playful despite being busy; all of these activities are in the spirit of Giving and will help to improve our mental health and wellbeing.