Today sees the launch of the government’s Foresight Project on Mental Capital and Wellbeing. nef‘s Centre for Well-being contributed two significant discussion papers to this project, which are also published today.
In Five Ways to Well-being, we reviewed the empirical evidence collected by Foresight from hundreds of research studies across the world. The outcome is a set of five different kinds of daily activity that, according to the latest and best evidence available, promote well-being and help to buffer against mental health difficulties.
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.
Go for a walk or run. Step outside. Cycle. Play a game. Garden. Dance. Exercising makes you feel good. Most importantly, discover a phsyical activity you enjoy and one that suits your level of mobility and fitness.
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. Reflecting on your experiences will help you appreciate what matters to you.
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.
Do something nice for a friend, or a stranger. Thanks 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.
Our second discussion paper, somewhat less glamorous but no less worthy, explored the applications of well-being research to policy. If we are to take well-being seriously as a policy goal, we need to have a robust understanding of what it is and how to go about measuring it. In the paper we describe a new, policy-relevant schematic model of well-being that we are delighted to see has found its may into the main Foresight report.