Wellbeing is a commonly used word, but what does it actually mean? And how can we improve our wellbeing?
We asked Gail Preston, who works as part of our Wellbeing team.
“A feeling of wellbeing doesn’t have a single set meaning. You might use it to talk about how you feel, or how well you’re coping with daily life. There are lots of qualities and characteristics associated with a positive sense of wellbeing, but you can increase a sense of contentment, through improved diet, exercise and other lifestyle changes. There’s no need to tackle too much at once and just small steps can really help boost your mood,” says Gail.
Gail is a physiotherapist and has worked at St Christopher’s for 10 years, supporting patients, and their families, to live well. She works as part of a team including complementary therapists, a wellbeing coordinator and health care assistants. Gail says that running our wellbeing activities is immensely rewarding, especially when she sees patients feel improvements in their own lives.
Here are six tips from Gail that we can all think about:
Where possible, drink plenty of water, have regular meals and eat a balanced diet, to help your mood and energy levels. Try to build physical activity into every day, whether that’s a walk, dancing in the kitchen or some exercises in a chair (visit www.stchristophers.org.uk/davidexercise for some seated exercises). Any activity that raises your heart rate and gets you breathing a little faster and deeper is great; activity such as vigorous cleaning or gardening all counts. Do consult your GP if you have any concerns or have not exercised in a long time.
Try to find time to relax
This could be through a hobby such as knitting, puzzling, or listening to an audiobook. Or lots of people find mindfulness – a way of paying close attention to the moment that you are in right now – very helpful. Visit our website for some ideas that you can try www.stchristophers.org.uk/resource/relaxation/
The great outdoors
If you have a garden or local park that you can get to, spending time in nature for at least a short while each day can reduce stress and boost mood. Or try bringing nature inside, with flowers or by growing plants or seeds on your windowsill. Even looking out of the window can help us to experience a connection.
The end result isn’t important, it’s the process that can help focus you and be rewarding. Many people tried baking during lockdown, and there are also lots of classes online or library books to help you learn more about music, or drawing, for example. If you’d like to get crafty, try one of our online art sessions, such as origami at www.stchristophers.org.uk/origami, or one of our group sessions.
Connect with others
Feeling connected, whether with others or the world around us, is important to maintaining our wellbeing. This hasn’t been easy recently, but if you have family, friends or neighbours, try to keep in regular contact, whether in person, by phone or post. St Christopher’s has lots of social groups open to everyone online, such as quiz sessions and a group just for men: visit www.stchristophers.org.uk/wellbeing/. Later on, volunteering is a great way to meet people and get out and about.
Establish a routine around bedtime, which includes having some technology free time before bed. Relaxing activities, such as warm bath, or drinking a herbal tea rather than caffeine-fuelled drinks, can all help towards a better night’s sleep. There may be improvements you can make to your sleeping environment too. Watch at www.stchristophers.org.uk/resource/fit-for-lifesleep/ for tips.
If you want to find out more about how you can help yourself there are a wide range of short video resources available at www.stchristophers.org.uk/fitforlife
If you’d like any assistance to join any of St Christopher’s online activities or finding information on our website, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo: Ian, combining the benefits of nature and volunteering, at St Christophers Orpington site
ehospice is grateful to St Christophers for permission to republish this article.