Wellbeing is the one of the strongest determinants of an individual’s health: it fundamentally affects behaviour, social cohesion, social inclusion and prosperity.
In 2008, the New Economics Foundation (nef) was commissioned by the UK Government’s Foresight project on mental capital and wellbeing to review the inter-disciplinary work of over 400 scientists from across the world. The aim was to identify a set of evidence-based actions to improve wellbeing, which individuals would be encouraged to build into their daily lives. They came up with a list of 'Five Ways to Wellbeing':
- Connect with the people around you. With family, friends, colleagues and neighbours. At home, work, school or in your local community. Think of these as the cornerstones of your life and invest time in developing them. Building these connections will support and enrich you every day.
- Be active. Go for a walk or run. Step outside. Cycle. Play a game. Garden. Dance. Exercising makes you feel good. Most importantly, discover a physical activity you enjoy and that suits your level of mobility and fitness.
- Take notice. Be curious. Catch sight of the beautiful. Remark on the unusual. Notice the changing seasons. Savour the moment, whether you are walking to work, eating lunch or talking to friends. Be aware of the world around you and what you are feeling. Reflecting on your experiences will help you appreciate what matters.
- Keep learning. Try something new. Rediscover an old interest. Sign up for that course. Take on a different responsibility at work. Fix a bike. Learn to play an instrument or how to cook your favourite food. Set a challenge you will enjoy achieving. Learning new things will make you more confident as well as being fun.
- Give. Do something nice for a friend, or a stranger. Thank someone. Smile. Volunteer your time. Join a community group. Look out, as well as in. Seeing yourself, and your happiness, linked to the wider community can be incredibly rewarding and creates connections with the people around you.
Life satisfaction estimates - key findings for the Lancashire-14 area
Reported personal well-being at the UK level has improved every year since 2011/12 when data were first collected, suggesting that an increasing number of people in the UK are feeling positive about their lives. However, the rate of increase has slowed over the last year.
For the Lancashire-12 area, average mean life satisfaction estimates sourced from the Annual Population Survey were not statistically different to the UK ratings for the four years to 2014/15. But, for 2015/16, the Lancashire-12 rating (7.45) was significantly lower than the UK (7.66) for the first time.
Corby (6.86) in the East Midlands, and West Lancashire (7.00), Burnley (7.01) and Preston (7.06), all within the Lancashire-14 area of the North West, had the lowest life satisfaction results in the UK (out of 389 areas with results) for the 2015/16 financial year. Together with Blackpool (7.45), the Lancashire-12 area (7.45) and the North West (7.55), all of these areas had significantly lower ratings than the UK (7.65) and England (7.64) in 2015/16.
Life satisfaction and the other personal well-being indicators can now be viewed via interactive tools contained within the personal well-being web page published by the Office for National Statistics.
The wheel of measures chart summarises changes for each of the 43 well-being indicators across the 10 well-being domains at the UK level over the previous year.
Priorities and recommendations
The Mental Health and Wellbeing JSNA (2012) makes the following recommendations around wellbeing:
- Adopt the Living Well approach across local communities. The principle of this approach is that there will be no lasting reduction in inequalities unless we create the conditions across local communities that support wellbeing and enable people to live well.
- This includes the 'Year of Health and Wellbeing', which will be extended to '2020 - a decade of health and wellbeing' by which partners agree to:
- commit to taking active to improve the health and wellbeing of staff and customers;
- commit to adopting and integrating the five ways to wellbeing into their organisations and services they provide; and
- commit to using the 2011/2020 logo and website address on all future publicity materials and communications.
Page updated November 2016