The Five Ways to Wellbeing were conceived of long before
Covid came along, but the pandemic stress-tested tested their appeal and effectiveness.
Happily, they were not found wanting.
In was notable, in the early stages of lockdown, how
instinctively people adopted each of the Five Ways. There was plentiful online
evidence of people giving their time and talents to others, getting physically active
(were you one of the millions who worked out early morning with Jo Wicks?), learning
new subjects and skills, and practicing the lost arts of being present, mindful
and still. The fact that we embraced
these practices at a time of crisis, without being mandated to do so, suggests
we have an innate understanding of their importance to us.
The immense value of one of the Five Ways to Wellbeing was certainly
proven during the pandemic. When successive lockdowns and social distancing broke
our physical and emotional bonds with others the experience was unsettling. Online
communications were a godsend but a poor substitute for the proximity and touch
of others. Families and friends experienced the pain of enforced separation.
Covid reminded us that we are social beings with a strong
sense of community. It taught us that the state of our mental health is largely
determined by the strength, breadth, and quality of our social connections. We
are not just a random mass of individuals leading parallel lives.
So how can we restore our vital social links now
restrictions are being lifted? How do we ensure that we never take them for
granted again? Happily, there are lots of opportunities available to us…
We can arrange to meet family and friends more regularly –
say for a weekly coffee or a monthly dinner date.
We can make time to get to know our neighbours better –
whether they are in the same street or same community.
We can reconnect with people we’ve lost contact with, but
still think fondly of – like childhood friends or former colleagues.
We can join online communities and meet interesting people
from all over the world. Organisations like Action for Happiness, for example,
offer free online content based on the Five Ways to Wellbeing.
The Cardiff Half Marathon is a community too. It gives us a
chance to connect with thousands of others in pursuit of similar goals – physical
exercise, fun, achieving personal bests, or earning donations for charitable
In fact, the Cardiff Half Marathon enables us to practice
each of the Five Ways to Wellbeing at the same time, in an act of fully unified
So, whether you are running the Cardiff Half Marathon or
supporting it in some capacity, make your connection with it a strong one.
And consider making the end of the event the start of a new
regime of self-care. Practice the Five Ways to Wellbeing – Be active, Take
Notice, Keep Learning, Give. . .and Connect.
A proactive approach to self-care keeps our wellbeing higher
all the time and makes us more resilient during times of adversity.