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Five Ways, Five Days – Make it happen for you!

Five Ways, Five Days – Make it happen for you!

Mental Health Awareness Week (MHAW) 18 - 24 September 2023

This year the theme is ‘Five Ways, Five Days’.  The 5 ways to wellbeing are proven tools to boost our mental health.  Embedding these in your daily life can help build resilience in preparation for times of challenge.  Start small and think of ways you can bring the 5 ways to wellbeing to life within your day-to-day activities.  We all have some that we naturally include in our daily life, while others may take a little more focus.  But it is worth the effort to try and incorporate all five as much as possible. 

We all know the adage, stop and smell the roses but this doesn’t always seem so easy when life is busy.  Taking notice is about really noticing what is around you and how you are feeling.  Taranaki Rural Support Trust Coordinator Marcia Paurini recently talked about the simple things ‘take notice of how the bubbles feel on your skin while doing the dishes’.  We often use these moments to plot our to do list and Marcia’s comment is a good reminder to take the time to enjoy the moment without thinking of the next thing that needs doing.

✨Unplug for a few hours – sign out of social media or turn off your device notifications. Take this time to tune into yourself, pay attention to physical sensations, your feelings and what’s happening around you.

✨If you have work meetings today, begin with a karakia/prayer or short reflection (eg. an inspiring quote) followed by a brief silent period, allowing your hoamahi to breathe mindfully and bring their full attention into the room. End in a similar fashion.

✨Take a moment for your wairua by trying these mindful breathing exercises.

✨Plan to look up at the night sky to observe the marama/moon and the whetū/stars. Refer to the Māori maramataka/lunar calendar to learn about the phases of the moon.

✨Take some time for yourself, kick your feet up and listen to some feel good tunes on our MHAW Spotify playlist

Giving has a positive impact on our own wellbeing as well as those we are giving to.  Helping others boosts our mood, whether it is through time, support, resources or other ways.  The Waikato Hauraki Coromandel Rural Support Trust recently embraced random acts of kindness day on 1st September by dropping packs of goodies in random rural mailboxes around the region.  Waikato Facilitator Robyn Bregmen said ‘some people who received the packs were normally "givers" themselves, so I took great pleasure in ensuring they were a "taker" for the day.  They were so appreciative.  The smile on people’s faces made me feel warm’.  

We all know being active is good for our physical health but it also stimulates the release of endorphins which can help improve your mood and make you feel happier.  Lance Burdett from Warn International recently shared his sleep tips with a group of farmers in the Bay of Plenty at an Rural Support Trust event and being active was one. Lance suggests a thirty-minute walk in the evening after dinner to calm your brain, settle your food and burn off the adrenaline and cortisol that has built up over the day.  Something easy you can do for your physical health that has benefits for your mental wellbeing.  

Social connection is an important part of maintaining our wellbeing.  Positive social interactions help give us a sense of belonging. Take the time to connect with people who make you feel good, send a text to the friend you haven’t seen for a little while or reach out to someone who may be feeling alone.  Farming can be an isolated lifestyle and earlier this year the Otago Rural Support Trust took a coffee cart out to rural areas to encourage farmers off farm for a yarn.  Coordinator Joc Kinney said ‘Everyone came in their gumboots with the dog on the ute and caught up with friends and neighbours’.  ‘It was a good chance for farmers to talk to other farmers, after what had been a tough summer.  She was pleased to see the connection continuing with those attending keen to connect with other farmers they noticed that hadn’t been able to make it on the day.  Building our social connections help us maintain a social network that can support in challenging times. 

We all love that sense of achievement when we learn something we’ve never done before.  West Coast Rural Support Trust Coordinator Becky Walker and Chair Carol Keoghan are strong advocates of this way of wellbeing.  ‘This is a statement we love, it can mean so much and create such a shift in mindset’. ‘There are so many different ways to keep learning, both big and small.  It could be through new experiences, solving problems, conversations, podcasts, books or longer-term courses and workshops.’ Their advice is to look for opportunities to keep learning all the time, ‘it can create new thought patterns and helps keep your mind active and inquisitive’.

The 5 ways of wellbeing do not need to be considered in isolation, call a friend, go for a walk together, smell the roses and teach each other new plant names.  The 5 ways work well together, they are not another ‘add’ to your day but part of the fabric of our wellbeing that we can nurture to help us through hard times.

More information and tips to introduce the 5 ways of wellbeing can be found on the Mental Health Awareness Week website. How many will you do today?



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