5 Top Tips for Wellbeing
Imogen Aujla PhD, University of Bedfordshire
Mental health and wellbeing have received increasing attention in recent years, and the global pandemic has brought their importance into even sharper relief. Here are 5 simple evidence-based strategies to incorporate into your daily routine. Remember, improving wellbeing is an ongoing process. You can’t tick things off a list and be ‘done’, you have to take consistent action every day!
- Social contact
Positive social relationships are key predictors of happiness and wellbeing. This includes partners, friends and families, but also brief conversations with strangers. Lock down and social distancing measures have made it more difficult to maintain social relationships but try and talk to at least one person every day, face-to-face, on the phone, or on a video call. Make sure these people make you laugh and are on your side.
While the physical benefits of exercise are well-known, moving your body is also incredibly beneficial for your psychological wellbeing. Exercise releases endorphins, one of the family of ‘happy hormones’, improving mood and reducing stress. Dance in particular can provide emotional release, opportunities for self-expression, and may enable us to experience a flow state. This is where we are lost in the moment, completely focused on what we are doing and free from self-consciousness and distractions.
- Get outside
Being in nature is great for wellbeing – whether it’s ‘forest bathing’ where we can breathe in phytochemicals that reduce heart rate, blood pressure and depressive feelings, or enjoying the calming effects of being near water. In addition, being outdoors exposes us to natural light which is of critical importance in stabilising our circadian rhythm (which governs sleep, another key component of mental health), boosting Vitamin D, and warding off seasonal affective disorder.
- Go with the flow
I’m cheating here as this is a two-parter: firstly, find a way you can experience a flow state. As noted above, dance can be great for achieving flow but you if you’re finding it hard to get into the zone during a Zoom class in your living room, see if there is something else that enables you to be fully focused and in the moment. It might be painting, reading, gardening, doing crosswords – as long as you are actively engaged in something. Passively watching TV doesn’t count! The second part of going with the flow is about channelling your inner Stoic: accept that there are many things you cannot control. There is so much uncertainty in the current climate, so try to problem-solve the things that are under your control, and let go of the things that aren’t. Ruminating only makes things worse.
- Practice gratitude
Noticing the good in our lives makes us feel better: a daily gratitude practice can have long-term benefits including improved mood, self-esteem, and optimism. Writing 3 things that you’re grateful for each day and why is a great way to practice gratitude. Try doing this in the morning to start your day off on a positive note, or in the evening to help you process the day.
For more information about a MSc in Dance Science, visit:
MSc Dance Science: www.beds.ac.uk/howtoapply/courses/postgraduate/dance-science
Or email MSc Dance Science course coordinator Dr Imogen Aujla: firstname.lastname@example.org