Giving and Connecting for better mental health
Updated: May 10, 2021
Both Giving and Connecting are part of the 5 ways to well-being created by the New Economics Foundation (NEF). In 2008 the NEF created these evidence-based public mental health messages aimed at improving the mental health and wellbeing of the whole population.
There is strong evidence that indicates that feeling close to and valued by, other people is a fundamental human need and one that contributes to functioning well in the world.
Good relationships with others are important for your mental wellbeing. They can:
help you to build a sense of belonging and self-worth
allow you to share positive experiences
provide emotional support and allow you to support others
There are lots of things you could try to help build stronger and closer relationships:
if possible, take time each day to be with your family, for example, try arranging a fixed time to eat dinner together
arrange a day out with friends you have not seen for a while
try switching off the TV to talk or play a game with your children, friends or family
have lunch with a colleague
visit a friend or family member who needs support or company
volunteer at a local school, hospital or community group. Find out how to volunteer on the GOV.UK website
make the most of technology to stay in touch with friends and family. Video-chat apps like Skype and FaceTime are useful, especially if you live far apart
But don't rely on technology or social media alone to build relationships. It's easy to get into the habit of only ever texting, messaging or emailing people. When was the last time you had a card or a phone call from someone unexpectedly letting you know that they are there for you?
Also, VERY important, don't forget about the relationship with yourself, practise some self-care, connect with yourself, check out how you feel, and if there is anything you need to be doing to improve your relationship with yourself?
Taking part in social and community life is important to help us all feel connected as individuals. Research has shown that people who help others are more likely to rate themselves as happy.
You may also have heard that being kind to others is good for you too and that performing an act of kindness once a week over a six-week period is associated with an increase in wellbeing.
Research also suggests that acts of giving and kindness can help improve your mental wellbeing by:
creating positive feelings and a sense of reward
giving you a feeling of purpose and self-worth
helping you connect with other people
It could be small acts of kindness towards other people or larger ones like volunteering in your local community
saying thank you to someone for something they have done for you
asking friends, family or colleagues how they are and really listening to their answer
spending time with friends or relatives who need support or company
offering to help someone you know with DIY or a work project
volunteering in your community, such as helping at a school, hospital or care home
When we sincerely connect with people, check in with them, give them a bit of our time, we are helping them to feel cared for and considered.
Never underestimate how much of a boost your fives minutes spent talking to a lonely stranger or an hour to a long-lost friend who is going through a rough patch, will mean to them.
So have a think about how you can connect or give to your community. It doesn't have to cost you a penny, it might not even cost you much in time. A smile, a hello, a hold of the door, a give way at the junction.... all simple ways to give or connect.
How could you give or connect today?
Listen to Happiness Hub Episode 27 where Liz talks about how volunteering has been a big part of her life since she came to Nantwich.
Giving and connecting are strong values that Liz holds dear and she talks about how making time to connect with friends, colleagues her community and her husband helps her to stay happy and fulfilled.