Wellbeing & How to Improve It - Mental Fitness: Converge International - Page 14



DRUGS AND ALCOHOL
PRACTICING SELF-COMPASSION
are generally unhelpful for wellbeing. While most
drugs, including alcohol, may give a temporary
effect of feeling happier, being able to take risks,
even feelings of euphoria, generally this is more
than outweighed by the negative longer-term
effects after this temporary “high” wears off. This is
true of tobacco26 as well as alcohol27, prescription
and illegal drugs. There is an increasing consensus
that there is no ideal or “safe” amount of any of
these substances and that wellbeing is generally
maximised by avoiding them altogether.28 However,
in practice it is unlikely that everyone may choose
to give up them up entirely and so it is also
important to note that lower usage is better and
that avoiding problem or compulsive use of drugs
and alcohol is vital for wellbeing.
enhances wellbeing, as it can buffer against bad
reactions toward negative life events.34 An activity
that enables this can be writing a self-compassion
letter to yourself from the perspective of an
unconditional friend.35
ADOPTING NEW INTENTIONAL GOALS
can enhance wellbeing, as it provides a sense of
purpose and fosters three basic human needs of
competence, autonomy and connectedness29. This
includes making an effort to try something new that
aligns with personal values such as taking on new
responsibilities, learning an instrument or cooking3.
PRACTICING MINDFULNESS
enhances wellbeing, as it aids self-awareness and
understanding, helping people make choices that
align with their values. An example of what is meant
by mindfulness is taking notice of the environment
around you e.g., training awareness of sensations,
thoughts and feelings30.
PRACTICING GRATITUDE
enhances wellbeing through feelings of social
connection and promoting the regulation of
stress.31 32 Examples of how this can be done are
writing down things you are grateful for or writing a
gratitude letter to someone33.
14
PHYSICAL EXERCISE
can positively affect wellbeing, as it produces
endorphins – which are ‘feel-good’ chemicals22.
Even though endorphins are short lived, physical
exercise also promotes wellbeing long-term through
building resilience against stress, improved sleep
and enhanced self-esteem23. Activities can include
walking, running, dancing etc. Exercise doesn’t have
to be aerobic (i.e. it doesn’t have to be particularly
energetic) to have benefits for wellbeing.
NUTRITION
has been shown to have positive effects on
wellbeing. For example, a Mediterranean diet has
been shown to reduce depression risks24.
SLEEP
is one of the most critical elements in maintaining
wellbeing. Feeling rested and refreshed in the
morning is, in fact, one of the five questions in the
WHO-5 wellbeing measure. Sleep is an interesting
and difficult thing to study in relation to wellbeing
because it is bi-directional: more sleep leads to
higher wellbeing and conversely wellbeing levels
affect the quality and quantity of sleep. However,
experts do agree that, where it is possible,
improving sleep can be one of the most effective
ways to improve wellbeing and is likely to lead to
an upward spiral as the positive feedback loop of
getting better sleep kicks in25.
WELLBEING AND HOW TO IMPROVE IT | A WHITE PAPER FROM CONVERGE INTERNATIONAL | 2020

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