Have you heard of the Five Ways to Wellbeing? It’s a framework developed by the New Economics Foundation, comprising a set of evidence-based public mental health messages aimed at improving the mental health and wellbeing of the whole population.
The five ways are:
- Be active
- Take notice
- Keep learning
The promotion of wellbeing is a core value of The Student Housing Company, so we’ve put together a series of blog posts (look out for more to follow) with tips based on the Five Ways to Wellbeing, starting with the first: connecting.
What do we mean by ‘connect’?
The first of the Five Ways to Wellbeing is all about being present and forming connections: with your family, with friends, neighbours and colleagues, and with the world around you. Building and strengthening connections such as these will support and enrich your mental health. Fortunately, university provides lots of opportunities to build and grow your connections.
Connect with family
One of the hardest parts about going to university for some people is moving away from family, which makes this first tip all the more important. Staying in touch with family members while you are away studying is a cornerstone of good mental health, so try to keep up the contact with the folks back home. It’s so easy to get pulled into the study and social life of uni, so one idea could be to set a regular time for a phone catch-up, so you’ve always got that special time set aside for checking in - think Friday night dinner minus the dinner and on the phone.... All the same! Also set up a family group chat - they’ll want to know what you’re up to just as much as you do them.
Connect with friends, neighbours and colleagues
If staying in touch with family is difficult for any reason, there are still lots of opportunities at university for making friends and connecting with people on a social level. Sports offer a great way of doing this, as well as the chance to stay fit and healthy too. Many students meet some of their best friends through joining uni sports teams. If that’s not really your thing, check out the list of societies and social groups at your university. There may be something on there you’re interested in already, or want to explore, and joining these kinds of groups is a brilliant and easy way to meet new people. Having good relationships with your flatmates and neighbours is also really important, that’s why at The Student Housing Company our RAs organise regular social activities to keep everyone connected and feeling good.
Connect with the world
In an increasingly busy and noisy world, it’s easy to retreat into something of a bubble, especially when you have study and deadlines to deal with. You may find yourself thinking a lot about workloads and other pressures, which can make it difficult to be ‘present’ in the moment. That’s why a lot of people value mindfulness, which helps connect your thoughts with the here and now and ground you in the moment. Here’s an exercise to try that will help you reconnect with the world around you and quieten some of the worries on your mind.
Go for a walk and try to find a bit of green space like a park, with plenty of fresh air. As you’re walking around, look for five things you can see and describe them to yourself silently. Next, listen for five things you can hear and do the same. Repeat this for things you can smell and things you can touch. You’ll find that you’ve taken a break from thinking about studies, as well as getting some exercise, and that you’ve reconnected with the world. You can do this any time your thoughts are getting too noisy, and you don’t even have to go outside - it works in your flat too!
More tips for connecting
Every day provides a chance to try doing something differently to make a connection. Here are some ideas:
- Do a favour for a flatmate, or share a journey with them
- Ask someone how they are - and really listen to the answer
- Instead of sending that DM, pick up the phone or go and visit someone
- Look for a chance to speak to someone at uni you’ve never met before
- Pick up the phone and arrange to visit your family or friends
With the January blues in full swing, we want to show some extra love. We’re running our own #5WaysToWellbeing competition this month, offering the chance to win the ultimate night in for you and your flat. Click here to find out more!
The Student Housing Company, at the heart of student wellbeing.