Five Ways to Wellbeing
Evidence suggests there are five steps we can all take to improve our mental wellbeing. If you try them, you may feel happier, more positive and able to get the most from life.
The five steps are:
2. Be active
3. Keep learning
4. Give to others
5. Take notice
Connect with the people around you. With family, friends, colleagues and neighbours. At home, work and in your local community. Invest time in developing them. Building these connections will support and enrich you every day.
Hear from others
There are a range of podcasts hosted by members of the University community that can help you feel connected. Some examples are:
Getting involved in the University or local community can be a great way to feel connected to people and the world around you. There are lots of ways you can do this.
Community Projects and Plan
Find out how our staff and students work with local communities on a wide variety of projects.
Our scheme helps the development of projects, community activities and sustainable local action through funding and collaboration. We support local people's vision for a better Edinburgh.
University in the City
Find out what facilities the University offers to Edinburgh residents.
Many staff across the University are involved in staff networks that have been created due to a shared goal, interest or experience.
Staff Pride Network
The Staff Pride Network is an inclusive network for LGBT+ employees and allies across the institution, including PhD students who prefer to attend staff events. They host regular socials including weekly coffee meetups, and other interesting events throughout the year.
Disabled Staff Network
The Network aims to provide a network of mutual support and a collective voice for staff with disabilities, restrictive health conditions, and caring responsibilities.
Edinburgh Race Equality Network
The Edinburgh Race Equality Network (EREN) is a network for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) staff and allies committed to creating an environment where race is celebrated and everyone is treated fairly.
The Sustainability Champions are a network of staff and students making the University of Edinburgh more sustainable. We will help you develop the skills you need to lead positive change in your area of work.
Go for a walk or run. Step outside. Cycle. Play a game. Garden. Dance. Exercising makes you feel good. Most importantly discover a physical activity you enjoy and one that suits your level of mobility and fitness.
The University’s Active Lives team are always offering new and interesting ways to keep active for the benefit of your physical and mental health. This includes:
- Health walks
- At home workouts
- Yoga and Pilates
- Managing acute injury
- Introduction to running
Check out their webpage for more information:
See also our section on Looking after your physical health [link].
Staff Discounts and Benefits
Browse the site for a range of health and fitness related discounts. Our News Posts on the main page of the site keep you updated with new offers and information.
Information is stored on the Pay and Reward SharePoint site, you will need your firstname.lastname@example.org and password to access the site.
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.
Centre for Open Learning
Provide short courses for the local community in a range of subjects.
Digital Skills and Training
The Digital Skills and Training team help to develop the digital and information literacy, desktop and IT productivity skills of University staff and students to help them work, research and study more effectively and to support continuing professional development.
Finance Training Hub
Specialises in a wide-range of training resources from hands on training sessions to user guides to online video tutorials.
Free Short Online Courses
The University of Edinburgh offers a range of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs).
Health and Safety Courses
The Health and Safety Department provide various training courses for University employees and students.
HR Courses and Resources
Access to personal effectiveness, management and leadership resources, workshops and eLearning for all staff.
Institute for Academic Development
IAD provide support for teaching, learning and researcher development; through leadership, innovation, collaboration and direct provision that benefits students, staff
Social Responsibility and Sustainability
Learn about social responsibility and sustainability at the University of Edinburgh through our online training course 'Be Sustainable', or take your knowledge to the next level with 'Be Sustainable Advanced'. You can also find out how to request an in-person training session
Staff Go Abroad Programme
Erasmus+ funding is currently available for staff to teach or train in Europe and beyond during the 2019/20 academic year
Find details for available staff scholarships.
Give to others
Doing something nice for a friend or stranger, or volunteering for a larger cause, can have a huge impact for other people, as well as helping you in looking after your wellbeing.
Giving to others helps, whether it's time, energy or money
It helps you and it helps others. We shouldn’t be embarrassed to acknowledge it. By giving we get something back in turn, and because it feels good, we should do it more.
Giving can take many shapes and it can start small, so why not give it a try.
You will already be ‘giving’ as part of your relationships with family, friends, and even strangers. You’ll give time and energy to listen and support; to think about them and offer advice. You will also give to neighbours and strangers, through your interactions and encounters. Your warmth and friendliness will spread positivity and connection.
For years scientific studies have demonstrated how giving can benefit you. We often think about this as future benefits, and through the lens of volunteering, but you can benefit now and in many different ways. Giving can:
- Create a sense of belonging
- Give you purpose
- Give you perspective
- Teach you to help yourself
- Boost your self esteem
- Create a positive mental attitude
- Extend your network
Hints and tips
- Start small: pick up something extra in the supermarket and donate it to your local food bank (there’s normally a trolley or basket in the shop)
- Make it easy: telephone a friend and ask them how they are; put a note through your neighbours door
- Make it your identity: do you people recognise you for your generosity? Make giving a part of your identity
- Don’t miss out on a social norm: people are helping one another now more than ever – be part of the movement
So what’s next?
Don’t be afraid to make it simple and ask yourself:
- Can I help someone or something?
- Who can I help?
- What can I give?
Keep the answers simple, and it’ll make it really easy to start. Tick off the benefits when you feel them and acknowledge what it means to you. Soon giving will become an important part of you looking after your wellbeing.
Giving to our environment
Our health is influenced by the environment within which we live, work and play. By becoming involved in initiatives which promote healthier environments, there are also opportunities to further your own health through engagement, social interaction and skill development
Waste and Recycling: The University is committed to continuous improvement of waste management practices and a reduction in the proportion of waste sent to landfill.
Energy: The University seeks to raise levels of energy awareness amongst staff and students through the Switch and Save Energy Reduction Campaign.
Travel: The Transport and Parking Office provides information on walking, cycling, public transport, driving and travelling to the University.
Greener Scotland: Greener Scotland is a Scottish Government website which provides advice and support to reduce your carbon footprint.
Giving to our local community
There are a number of ways you can work with local communities to make a positive contribution to the lives of people in and around Edinburgh. Find out more via the Edinburgh Local webpages:
As a University of Edinburgh employee, you can give to any registered UK charity including the University of Edinburgh through your pay. Payroll Giving is a simple, tax-efficient way of donating to the cause you care about most.
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.
Being aware of the world around you and what you are feeling, and reflecting on your experiences can help you appreciate what matters.
The Chaplaincy are running virtual mindfulness workshops, drop-ins and organise a weekly MindLetter which consists of an email and a theme for reflection.
Know You More, one of our coaching partners, has put together a resource to help you understand your own reactions at this time of crisis and identify your personal strengths and resources to support you stay resilient and adapt.
The Institute for Academic Development has produced a guide to provide researchers with the skills and awareness required to thrive in your research position.
How to be more mindful?
The following is taken from NHS guidance on mindfulness
Reminding yourself to take notice of your thoughts, feelings, body sensations and the world around you is the first step to mindfulness.
Notice the everyday
"Even as we go about our daily lives, we can notice the sensations of things, the food we eat, the air moving past the body as we walk," says Professor Williams. "All this may sound very small, but it has huge power to interrupt the 'autopilot' mode we often engage day to day, and to give us new perspectives on life."
Keep it regular
It can be helpful to pick a regular time – the morning journey to work or a walk at lunchtime – during which you decide to be aware of the sensations created by the world around you.
Try something new
Trying new things, such as sitting in a different seat in meetings or going somewhere new for lunch, can also help you notice the world in a new way.
Watch your thoughts
"It might be useful to remember that mindfulness isn't about making these thoughts go away, but rather about seeing them as mental events.
Name thoughts and feelings
To develop an awareness of thoughts and feelings, some people find it helpful to silently name them: "Here's the thought that I might fail that exam". Or, "This is anxiety".
Free yourself from the past and future
You can practise mindfulness anywhere, but it can be especially helpful to take a mindful approach if you realise that, for several minutes, you have been "trapped" in reliving past problems or "pre-living" future worries.
Mindfulness practices aid good sleep, and quietening of the cognitive reactivity that accompanies difficulty sleeping, by quietening the mind’s ‘driven-doing’ mode of mind, which activates the fight/flight and drive systems.
Here are some guided practices, recorded from the Mindfulness Drop-ins, to stream or download. These are best done a few times a week, to help train your mind to gather and settle.