Wellbeing is worth aspiring to – who doesn’t want to feel happier and healthier? But how do we increase our wellbeing in the context of increasingly busy and demanding lives?
Ara student Savanna Ornsby has some ideas and she wants to share what has worked for her through her School of Wellbeing project from 10 – 21 October.
“I‘m the busiest I have ever been with studying a Bachelor of Applied Science full time, organising the School of Wellbeing project and conducting a research project at St George’s hospital. But these days I deal with the pressure better. I’m flourishing and thriving because of my positive mental state.”
Rewind to a few years ago, and things were a little different. “Stress definitely got to me more easily,” Savanna says. “It wasn’t that I was struggling, but I knew I could be enjoying life more. I felt as though I was going through the motions and I knew I could be feeling better.”
She started to make small changes to her lifestyle by cleaning up her diet a little and getting more active each day. When she started to see significant improvements, she knew she wanted to help others feel better too.
She enrolled in the Bachelor of Applied Science (Physical Activity and Health Promotion) at Ara. It is here that Savanna hit upon the five ways of wellbeing, originally published in 2008 in the UK by the New Economics Foundation's (NEF) Foresight Project on Mental Capital and Wellbeing, and later adopted by the NZ Mental Health Foundation.
The original report found that: “Encouraging and enabling everyone to realise their potential throughout their lives will be crucial for our future prosperity and wellbeing.”
In Christchurch, the Five Ways of Wellbeing were picked up by the foundation’s All Right? campaign, to help Cantabrians negotiate post-earthquake stress and live life fully.
All Right? is supporting the School of Wellbeing project at Ara. The programme reflects the Five Ways of Wellbeing: Connect, Be Active, Take Notice, Keep Learning and Give.
Connect focuses on maintaining and expanding the connections with family and friends that enrich our lives - the Quiz Night on 21 October is a fun activity for connecting. Be Active picks up on the importance of exercise, including sport, dancing, gardening - look out for the Aralympics throughout the project.
Take Notice encourage us to be aware, notice special moments of beauty and wonder and reflect on experiences, such as the Port Hills Night Walk on 11 October. Keep Learning encompasses activities that encourage us all to try something new and take up a challenge; such as the Cultural Crafts workshop, Kick Start Your Herb Garden and nutrition talks.
Give promotes doing something nice for others – not just giving your time and skills, but little things like sharing your happiness, thanking someone or, volunteering at Kakano Café.
Most importantly, it’s not necessary to radically change your lifestyle; one small change can create positive transformation. All Right? runs the Wellbeing Game to show how easy it is to use the Five Ways of Wellbeing. Many of the five ways overlap, so going for a walk with a friend somewhere new for example, ticks off Be Active, Connect and Keep Learning. These are small, achievable activities that improve life quality, whoever you are.
“Now if I’m on edge, I’ll do a yoga restorative pose rather than reach for a chocolate bar, because I know this works for me. Using these tools becomes natural. Once people are aware of the five ways, they will find their own ways of adopting them to realise their own potential.”
Being outdoors somewhere scenic is restorative for many people. Nature is the theme of the New Zealand Mental Health Awareness Week, which runs 10 – 16 October. “We have got a Waterfall Walk with yoga and mindfullness planned for Sunday 16 October to finish off the week,” Savanna says. “This is the event I’m personally most excited about!”