5 steps to take towards well-being for the new year

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It’s now 2020! Time is passing quickly. We have just had a general election. Brexit is yet to happen in the UK. It’s cold and grey almost everyday. Life can feel hectic at times with everything that is going on in our fast-paced world. We are constantly surrounded by stressors and it can get quite overwhelming with work, studies, relationships and the internet. So, what can we do to maintain our calm through all this? How can we take care of ourselves and our well-being during these unpredictable, ever-changing times?

The Foresight’s Mental Capital and Wellbeing Project has developed ‘five ways to well-being’, which are a set of evidence-based actions to improve personal well-being. It is based on world-wide research on how to improve people’s mental wellbeing throughout life. Evidence suggests that a small improvement in well-being can help to decrease some mental health problems and also help people to flourish. And when we analyse these 5 concepts, we find them deeply embedded within the teachings of the religion of Islam.

The five steps are to:

1) Connect

2) Be Active

3) Take Notice

4) Keep Learning

5) Give

Connect

We know human beings are very social and this is becoming even more vital in a world run by technology. We forget the power of human contact. It is important to develop a sense of belonging and self worth and to gain support from those around us. No wonder Islam teaches us to take care of our parents, emphasises the role of society through Friday prayer, and the importance of choosing the right friends in our life. Connect with the people around you and choose those people wisely. They form the cornerstones of your life. Invest in those relationships and develop them regularly. Go visit a family member or friend you haven’t seen recently. Or go down to your local mosque on a Friday. Try disconnecting from phones, TV and internet, and talk to others or play games together. These personal connections will greatly enrich your life.

Be Active

Don’t assume this means going to the gym. Activity is any type of movement that you enjoy and find fun in, ranging from gardening to Zumba to shopping. It’s not only great for physical health but also to raise your self-esteem and positivity by increasing your happy hormones. We have teachings from the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) to do things like swimming and horse-back riding because being active makes you feel good. Discover something that suits your mobility and fitness levels, and no one will catch up with you!

Take notice

Mindfulness is such a buzz word now a days, but essentially it means to be aware of the present moment. Remember when you were younger and your parents told you to focus on your prayer and nothing else? What they were essentially trying to teach you is this skill. By focusing on what is happening at this moment in time, rather than being stuck in the past or worrying about the future, you positively enhance the way you feel about life. Next time you are doing something, try and savour the moment no matter how mundane it may seem. Try it with your breakfast. Begin by truly being grateful and praising Allah for his blessings. Actually look at what you are eating, feel the different textures and flavours in your mouth, you might enjoy it more! By reflecting on these things, you will learn about the valuable things in your life and you will understand your feelings better.

Keep learning

“Seek knowledge even if you have to go as far as China, for seeking knowledge is a duty on every Muslim”- Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). It is so important for us to keep learning as it helps to boost self-confidence, raises self-esteem, and build a sense of purpose. Learning is not limited to studying at a formal institution. You could learn a new skill like fast-reading, sudoku, or knitting. Create a new recipe, memorise new words, or join a class – whatever you find engaging and worthwhile. This will take you to far places in life, maybe even China!

Give

Just the simple act of giving can help to lift your spirits. And that’s why every act of kindness is a sadaqa (charity). Seeing yourself and your happiness linked with the wider community can be incredibly rewarding. You can give your time like volunteering or listening and supporting someone, you can share kind words and smiles with others, you can donate money, or you can teach others what you are good at. But always try to give something, it is better than not giving at all.

So, next time you are feeling down or not quite yourself, ask yourself which one out of these five ways have I not done recently and try to embed it within your regular routine to maintain your overall well-being.

Stay well.