What is wellbeing?
Good mental wellbeing means feeling good and functioning well. It doesn’t mean that you never experience feelings or situations that you find difficult, but you’ll have the resilience to cope when times are tough. Good mental health and resilience are fundamental to our physical health, our relationships, our education, and our work and to achieving our potential.
Our mental health can change over time. This can be because of life events which cause distress or unhappiness, or it can happen with no apparent cause.
What are the 5 Ways to Wellbeing?
Evidence suggests there are five steps we can all take to improve our mental wellbeing. Read about them in detail here and find out about how Milton Keynes can help you achieve these five steps in this article.
All five of these actions are free, easily achievable and can be done by anyone. You might already be doing some of the ‘5 ways’ without even being aware of it!
Evidence suggests there are five steps we can all 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 life.
With the people around you. With family, friends, colleagues and neighbours. At home, work, school or in your local community. Think of these as the cornerstones of your life and invest time in developing them. Building these connections will support and enrich you every day.
Evidence shows that good relationships with family, friends and our wider communities are important for our mental wellbeing and that happy people have stronger social relationships than less happy people – this may be because social networks promote a sense of belonging and wellbeing. There’s also evidence that being around people with strong mental wellbeing can improve your own mental wellbeing.
Building relationships for wellbeing means:
- Strengthening your relationships with people who are close to you, such as family and friends
- Broadening your relationships in your community and the wider world
Some local services you might find useful
New to Milton Keynes or simply interested in meeting new people?
- Search the Community Information (COIN) directory – for information on societies, organisations and clubs that serve the Milton Keynes area.
- Destination MK – includes information about events and activities to do in Milton Keynes
- Ships is a Rethink Mental Illness Support Group that is a safe and welcoming place to talk about your issues and share experiences. Ships RMI Poster (PDF, 414KB)
Links to find out about connecting
The Silver Line is a confidential, free helpline for people over 65 years of age across the UK. Open every day and night of the year it offers information, friendship and advice. It links callers to local groups and services and can offer regular befriending calls.
Age UK is a charity working with older people and offers help, information and advice.
Friends of the Elderly has a telephone befriending service which supports people over 60 years old living in England and Wales. It is ideal for people who live alone with little contact from family or friends. The service helps prevent feelings of loneliness and isolation by providing a regular phone call from a friendly volunteer.
Go for a walk or run. Step outside. Cycle. Play a game. Garden. Dance. Exercising makes you feel good. Most importantly, discover a physical activity you enjoy and that suits your level of mobility and fitness, and make it a part of your life.
What you do with your body can have a powerful effect on your mental wellbeing. Regular physical activity is associated with a greater sense of wellbeing and lower rates of depression and anxiety across all age groups.
Participating in as little as 10 minutes of activity can increase mood. So although adults should aim to be active for at least 150 minutes (2½ hours) a week, being active in bouts of 10 minutes or more is a great way to start – and if it helps you to feel good then why not give it a go.
Some local services you might find helpful
Physical Activity MK promotes physical activity opportunities within Milton Keynes
The Sports Development team supports and co-ordinates a range of sporting and recreation opportunities for everyone across Milton Keynes
Leap will help you find your nearest sport and active opportunities across Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes
Walking for Health can guide you to the nearest nature walks within five miles of Milton Keynes
Other places to find more information about getting active:
Age UK has a guide ‘Physical activity’ which is aimed at people who have never taken part in regular physical activity before or those who have been inactive for a while
British Heart Foundation: Staying Active offers nine useful tips in their guide to getting active
Cancer research UK – physical activity, exercise and cancer explains how incorporating more physical activity into your life can help prevent cancer
Change4Life is the NHS campaign website which encourages us all to ‘eat well’, ‘move more’ and ‘live longer’
NHS Choices:Health and Fitness highlights the benefits of exercise and offers information of various activities for beginners through to the more experienced
NHS: Physical Activity guidelines details the physical activity guidelines for adults for both aerobic and strength exercises
Mental health Foundation – A pocket guide on how to look after your mental health using exercise.
Take a look back at the MK50 birthday in 2017 by browsing the images from our recent photo exhibition. It showcases around 100 entries from the 5 Ways to Wellbeing ‘Take Notice’ competition where residents were invited to express what inspires and encourages them everyday in their unique city.
Be curious. Catch sight of the beautiful. Remark on the unusual. Notice the changing seasons. Savour the moment, whether you are walking to work, eating lunch or talking to friends. Be aware of the world around you and what you are feeling. Some people call this awareness ‘mindfulness’, and it can positively change the way you feel about life and how you approach challenges.
Studies have shown that being aware of what is taking place in the present (through our sensations, thoughts and feelings) directly enhances wellbeing.
Some local services you might find helpful
Parks and Open Spaces in Milton Keynes details the best green spaces around the city for recreation and lakeside walks.
The Parks Trust Milton Keynes runs events from the Proms in Campbell Park to nature reserve open days, as well as organised walking groups.
MK Gallery offers a programme of exhibitions, events and international contemporary visual art as one of the UK’s leading galleries.
Learn to meditate in just 10 minutes a day with the Headspace app. Daily meditation has been shown to help people stress less, exercise more and even sleep better.
Other places to find more information about getting advice:
- NHS Choices – mindfullness for mental wellbeing.
- Mental Health Foundation – A pocket guide on how to look after your mental health using mindfulness.
Try something new. Rediscover an old interest. Sign up for that course. Take on a different responsibility at work. Fix a bike. Learn to play an instrument or how to cook your favourite food. Set a challenge you will enjoy achieving. Learning new things will make you more confident as well as being fun.
Learning new skills can give you a sense of achievement and confidence and it can also improve mental wellbeing. It doesn’t have to mean getting qualifications. There are lots of different ways to bring learning into your life. Why not sign up for a cooking course, start learning to play a musical instrument, or figure out how to fix your bike? Set a challenge you will enjoy achieving. Learning new things will make you more confident as well as being fun.
For children, learning plays an important role in social and cognitive development. However, continuing to learn through life can improve and maintain our mental wellbeing. The opportunity to engage in work or educational activities may help to lift older people out of depression.
For more information: NHS Choices – learn for mental wellbeing
Some local services you might find helpful
Support your wellbeing at Smile:)MK, a programme of courses delivered by Adult Education (part of Community Learning MK) aimed at supporting people with mild to moderate depression, anxiety and/or sleep difficulties by providing access to various learning activities. See their course information booklet 2019 (PDF, 2.2MB) for more information.
Milton Keynes Library home page and online reference material
Arts for Health (Milton Keynes) uses arts and creativity to improve health and wellbeing.
The Open University offers flexible part-time study, supported distance and open learning for undergraduate and postgraduate courses and qualifications.
Milton Keynes College offers full time and part time courses from GCSEs to HNDs, as well as professional skills courses and apprenticeships.
Cranfield University based in Milton Keynes offers research, postgraduate education and professional development.
Do something nice for a friend, or a stranger. Thank someone. Volunteer your time. Join a community group. Seeing yourself, and your happiness, linked to the wider community can be incredibly rewarding and creates connections with the people around you.
Giving is the ability to cope with life’s problems and make the most of life’s opportunities. It’s about feeling good and functioning well, both as individuals and collectively.
Even the smallest act of giving or kindness counts, whether it’s a smile, a thank you or a kind word. Larger acts of giving or kindness, such as volunteering at your local community centre, or joining a community group can improve your mental wellbeing and help you build new social networks.
Feelings of happiness and life satisfaction have been strongly linked with active participation in social and community life. Helping, sharing and giving are likely to be linked with an increased sense of self-worth and positive feelings.
Giving to others and co-operating with them can stimulate the reward areas in the brain, creating positive feelings.
Helping and working with others can also give us a sense of purpose and feelings of self-worth.
Giving our time to others in a constructive way helps us strengthen our relationships and build new ones. Relationships with others also help mental wellbeing.
Volunteering in Milton Keynes
There are a range of opportunities to volunteer in Milton Keynes. The following links provide details of volunteering opportunities in a range of settings from libraries, heritage and culture, outdoors, and caring.
Volunteering in Milton Keynes is for everyone, whatever your age or situation. Whether you have a short amount of time, are looking for a one off opportunity or something more regular to get your teeth into.
www.ncvo.org.uk is committed to supporting, enabling and celebrating volunteering in all its diversity with resources for all aspects of volunteering.
You can search through one million opportunities to volunteer at national web-site vcconnect.org.
Links to find out about giving
- NHS Choices – give for mental wellbeing
- Mental Health Foundation – benefits of caring for others
- Mental Health Foundation – Doing good does you good: A pocket guide to helping others.