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How do we know what’s good for our wellbeing?

There’s so much focus on self-improvement these days – making changes to our lives to improve our performance, our physical health and mastering new skills. It’s generally straightforward to tell what helps us improve in these areas:

  • Testing new time management techniques to meet our targets at work
  • Increasing the amount of exercise we do to increase our physical fitness
  • Regular practice to learn a new skill

But how do we know what is and isn’t good for our wellbeing? We all lead busy lives so it’s hard to tell what is good for us and what might be having a negative impact on our health and wellbeing.

Having an insight into our thoughts, feelings and behaviours can improve our wellbeing. We gain this insight through the process of reflection. If we can identify what is good and bad for our wellbeing, we can make the changes we need to improve and maintain our wellbeing.

Theme 6: Reflection

Reflection builds on last week’s theme of mindfulness, as it also involves recognising our thoughts and feelings. Focusing our attention on ourselves can help with our personal growth and wellbeing – reflection consolidates learning from our experiences and enables us to apply this learning to new situations.

What is reflection? Self-reflection is the process of focusing on ourselves and increasing our awareness of our thoughts and feelings. Having an insight into how we think, feel and are motivated is key to our psychological health. Taking time to reflect can reduce anxiety, improve motivation and help us plan for the future.

It is important to understand that reflection focuses on learning from past events to improve our current and future wellbeing. It isn’t rumination – repeatedly focusing on negative events or problems that we’ve experienced without finding ways to overcome them. Rumination is linked with anxiety, depression and low self-esteem. Rather than ruminating, the activities in this theme will encourage us to reflect upon setbacks and challenge with the aim of overcoming them in the future. Reflection is all about practice and as we progress through the blog, more tasks and techniques will be provided to help you reflect.

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

Why reflection is good for our wellbeing

Taking the time to reflect can help us:

Through the process of reflection, we can identify imbalances in our feelings and personal needs. Once these have been identified, we can make changes and choices that address them. This process of reflection and behaviour change has been shown to improve our wellbeing.

Reflection can increase our ability to learn – which we already know is good for our wellbeing. Additionally, the relationship between reflection and wellbeing works both ways – positive self-beliefs can lead us to evaluate ourselves positively.

Image by Avi Chomotovski from Pixabay

The onus on improving our wellbeing is ultimately on us. Taking 15 minutes to reflect can help us figure out what we need more and less of to improve our mental and physical health.

This week’s task gets you to reflect on the people, places and things that are good and bad for our wellbeing. Every day we interact with other people and the exchanges we have with others can have a huge impact on our mood and overall wellbeing. The environments we live, work and socialise in can affect how we feel about ourselves. The things we do and activities we engage in can also influence our health and wellbeing. This week’s activity worksheet includes some examples to help you reflect on what’s good and bad for your wellbeing.

Click the link below to download the worksheet. You can fill it in using the ‘fill and sign’ tool or alternatively print it off and fill it in by hand.

If reflecting on people, places and things has helped improve your wellbeing, please do get in contact and share your story!

I share wellbeing-related research, news and stories on twitter and Instagram in between weekly blog posts so do follow @15minwellbeing on both platforms to keep up to date.

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Improve your wellbeing in just 15 minutes

Welcome to 15 minute wellbeing! This blog will draw on existing research into wellbeing and translate it into simple tasks and exercises that you can do in 15 minutes to improve your health and wellbeing.

Each activity will not cost any money to do, because why should we pay to feel good about ourselves? As we progress through the activities we will discover that we already have everything we need to improve our wellbeing.

Instead of telling you what to do or how to change your life, this blog simply provides you with different tasks to complete each week to help you feel better within yourself. The variety of activities means that you won’t get bored trying the same old thing. Instead, you’ll get to try lots of different things to figure out what works for you and your wellbeing.

The activities are grouped into seven themes:

  • Connection
  • Creativity
  • Giving
  • Learning
  • Mindfulness
  • Physical health
  • Reflection

Research has shown that all of these can improve wellbeing. You may recognise five of these – connection, giving, learning, mindfulness and physical health – from Five Ways to Wellbeing, a set of evidence-based actions to improve wellbeing.  Creativity and reflection have been included because there is an increasing amount of research into how engaging with creative activities and focusing inwardly can enhance our wellbeing and help us understand what works for us. I’ll provide snippets of this research in each blog post so you can get a good understanding of how each activity can improve your wellbeing.

I’ve chosen Time to Talk Day to launch 15 minute wellbeing. Time to Talk Day is a national day in the UK which aims to get more people talking about mental health. This blog cannot help alleviate mental illness, but it can provide ideas and options to improve wellbeing which contributes to good mental health. If you are concerned about your mental health, please speak to your local GP, local Mind https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/guides-to-support-and-services/  Samaritans https://www.samaritans.org/  or Time to Change https://www.time-to-change.org.uk/mental-health-and-stigma/help-and-support

Theme 1: Connection

As it’s Time to Talk Day, this first activity will focus on connection and more specifically, sharing problems with others. Connection activities are all focused on encouraging more interactions with those around us, because strong social connections are essential to wellbeing. It’s not only the amount of social interactions we have that count, but the quality of them too – strong, positive social networks can help us feel like we belong and improve our wellbeing.

Developing relationships with others is something we usually do passively, without much effort – at school or work we spend a lot of the day with our classmates or colleagues which naturally results in friendships and relationships. However, as we get older we have less time to spend with our friends and family, which can result in fewer connections with others and increasing feelings of loneliness. Therefore, it’s important to invest in our relationships and make our connections more meaningful.    

One of the barriers to developing and maintaining positive relationships with others is sharing our problems, experiences and feelings with others. Today’s activity addresses this.

Why is connection important for our wellbeing?

Sharing problems with others and asking for their help can feel quite daunting. However, asking for support can help us feel better about ourselves and even help solve our problems. Today’s activity will help you identify the different people (or organisations) you can turn to when you experience different types of problems:

  • Practical ones, such as helping you lift something heavy
  • Answering difficult questions, such as homework or a tricky task at work
  • Emotional ones, such as mental health

Click the link below to download the worksheet. You can fill in the boxes using the ‘Fill & Sign’ tool.

I hope you find this activity useful and it gives you the confidence to seek help when you need it.

I will also be sharing wellbeing-related research, news and stories on twitter and Instagram in between weekly blog posts so do follow @15minwellbeing on both platforms to keep up to date.