5 ways to wellbeing – A question of connection

Following on from a recent podcast (Sincerely Yours, A Thirsk Counsellor Podcasts) I thought I would talk about wellbeing in this blog, and particularly about an approach that I’m aware of known as the ‘five ways to wellbeing‘ developed back in 2005 from a report ordered by the coalition government. When researched, the New Economics Foundation came back with  evidence of the impact that well-being could have.

The report found that people’s life expectancy could be greatly increased and the benefits to people’s lifestyles to be massively improved if they followed a simple plan, looking after certain aspects of there wellbeing. The five ways to wellbeing were as follows they talked about giving, your time and giving of yourself to the people say like around voluntary work and things like that the obvious one of the shorter that was about being acted as it is important to be acting in to engage with some kind of physical activity to improve your well-being taking notice over the little things in life and remembering the little things that give you joy they mention about  it’s important to keep learning keep stretching yourself and try new experiences and the last of the five points, the five ways to wellbeing ways, was to connect.

So the idea was that if you did each of these five ways to wellbeing on a daily basis, that it would improve your your life expectancy and improve your health, improve your mental health and so I thought I would look at each one of those in  talk a little bit about each of them.

So lets start with connect.  As a counsellor, a therapist, connection  with human beings, connection with people, is basically my bread and butter. It’s important for myself and  talking to people has  always been something I’ve been fascinated with.  It’s always been something that I’ve enjoyed, having conversations and  listening to people. In my training as a counsellor I learnt to the art of communication and the depth you can actually really engage with another human.  I found  you could really connect with people on a daily basis all the time, we live in interesting  times when we have the technology and the ability to connect with people in so many different ways.

When we connect with another person we are sharing a part of us, interaction is an opportunity to develop relationships.  It can help build our self-worth and self-esteem if we connect with another person.  We can become so consumed by all  our lives and by  the many roles we have that  we forget to really connect with people.

We live in a world of instant messaging and emojis, connecting on a real level with a person is becoming more and more rare.

I found on the NHS website about the five ways to wellbeing – https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/connect-for-mental-wellbeing/ 

CONNECTING with those who matter.

I telephoned my brother the other day, we haven’t spoken for about 7 years now, not for any particular reason.  We hadn’t fallen out or anything like that, we just don’t talk much. He lives in Scotland and I live in Yorkshire and we’ve just never been great at communication with each other.  I guess that’s a bit of an odd relationship for a lot of people to understand.

Whilst I was thinking about this subject this this idea of looking after wellbeing and the idea of connecting, and how important that it is.  I suddenly thought to myself I should call my brother.  The last time I remember speaking to him was shortly after my wedding which he attended.

I was on the fishing bank and I thought I’d give him a ring and we had a short conversation and then, for any number of reasons we just haven’t spoken.  We like certain things on Facebook and I’ve sent  messages on his birthday and likewise, but we hadn’t actually spoken, so I rang him up the other night and we started chatting and then we just talked and laughed and both apologised to each other because we’re rubbish at keeping in touch with each other, and we caught up and found out what each other’s been up to different things that are going on in our lives and then we both said will make an effort to keep in touch, to connect and have a good catch up.

It’s good to catch up with people who are important to you, people who have been a part of your life.  I spend a lot of time messaging my best friend, my best friend for over 40 years.  We use WhatsApp, we never talk on the phone and again I guess that’s a little bit unusual, we find it really quite difficult talking on the phone,we  have long-winded text conversations about various things through WhatsApp but we don’t actually speak to each other.

The last time we spoke to each other on the phone was when the Star Wars movie ‘The Force Awakens’ came out and Han Solo was killed!!! I was absolutely  inconsolable and I had to speak it through with him, and him alone. When we really talk, this usuall happens when I go  over and visit and stop the night.  Then we will stand there in the kitchen or sit down and just took for hours  and that’s how we really connect.  We connect on a face-to-face level and we can get a little bit over social media, but it’s actually face-to-face where we actually come into our own and we talk, and I guess that was a reason why I wanted to highlight the importance of connecting with people in a real way, and not just email people, or in a message on social media,  but it’s actually when I sit down face-to-face with people or  have a real voice conversation with people, it’s then I feel like I’m really connecting with people.  When I can hear the tone of voice when I can see the expression on their face she helps me feel closer to myself and it helps me improve my relationships with those nearest and dearest to me.

This is the fundemental role I take when i’m in the counselling room.  When I first sit down with a lient, I endeavor to make a connection.  To build a relationship in order to facilitate change.  The irony for me is that often, I am better at making connections with the clients I work with, I struggle more to retain and develop my relationships with my own family, but yet I meet with strangers and build a connection with them.

I have previously drawn parallels with angling and counselling in my short story Piscatorial Therapy, and through looking at this, it reminds me to develop these connections in all areas of my life, to build and recognise the right conditions within me.

Sincerely Yours

A Thirsk Counsellor

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