Why try something new!?
Written by Audrey Tang on May 11, 2022
In this week’s Wellbeing Lounge, Dr Audrey Tang and guest host Robb Henderson spoke with Mark Fox of Level Water a charity which organises outdoor swimming events to raise funds to give disabled children swimming lessons. We talked about why trying something new gives our wellbeing a boost – and for this mental health awareness week, here are some tips to give your energy a lift…and try (or even go) somewhere new!
Ultimately, when it comes to boosting your wellbeing, there are 3 popular self-help or socially prescribed ways to take action:
- Buffer the effects of stress by engaging in things that boost your wellbeing so that lower levels of cortisol are produced under pressure.
- Restoring a state of equanimity (calm) faster because an element of stress is unavoidable, and indeed is sometimes essential for high performance).
- At a time of stress, being able to find the headspace to take effective action
Activities such as:
-Stroking a pet
-Getting the right amount of sleep for you
-Engaging with nature
…all have proven benefits in all three of the elements above
It is certainly arguable that “Little and often” is likely to be more effective in keeping your energy tank topped up compared with few and far between:
- the former doesn’t bring with it the extra pressure before the event nor does it exert extra pressure and expectation on it)
- a break from routine is likely to give our brains a positive boost of energy through stimulating curiosity
- the benefits of nature for us biophilic humans are huge (Vitamin D and serotonin production through sunlight, the calming and rejuvenating effects of forest bathing, or the physical benefits of a walk in the fresh air)
- and the potential for more time with friends (faraway and furry)
…are just a few of the reasons why.
10 tips to boost your wellbeing through a micro-break from routine
Seligman outlined 24 values (Values In Action, Character Strengths) which he associated with higher levels of happiness when we engage with them, 10 of them are outlined here:
- Curiosity: Once you’ve got the place to safely rest your head – let adventure guide you. The release from planning and expectation can give you a sense of freedom that everyday life does not normally allow.
- Love: Book a break with friends!! Then spend your evenings catching up, sharing experiences and your days making new memories – you don’t even need your socials because the people you love most are right there with you!
- Creativity: Try something which enables you to get active – golf, surfing, pony trekking or hiking…the best part about doing that on holiday is that you don’t need to continue with it at home if you don’t want to!!
- Appreciation of Beauty: When walking a different route take a moment to recognise and perhaps photograph something from a different angle. Look for beauty that you may have otherwise overlooked on a regular path.
- Perspective: Go “off grid”, or alternatively take yourself to a place where you can embrace the vastness and beauty of nature. Not only are there likely to be wonderful walks and trails, but in taking in your environment it might help clear that headspace and let you filter through what’s really important.
- Love of Learning: Take a moment to read about an historical point of interest and decide for yourself what the power of the place is.
- Empathy: In a new environment, observe the behaviours without judgment of those living there, and reflect on what this teaches you about different lifestyle choices and needs (especially interesting when taking a break in an environment different to your natural one eg pet-friendly glamping v’s your life in the city)
- Gratitude: Play a game of “thank you steps” when you are exploring, say “thank you” with each step – this is likely to elicit a sense of playfulness which, as adults, we can often lose.
- Bravery: Always fancied yourself as a writer or a creator – take the time and take the plunge – you might produce the next best seller, or you might decide there are other things you prefer to do…but often trying to form a new habit is easiest done in a place where the old habits are not so associated.
- Humour: Laughter produces endorphins, the body’s natural pain killers – and the best thing about laughing on holiday, is if you delete the pics, what happened on your mini-break or excursion stays there!!
Dr Audrey Tang hosts The Wellbeing Lounge – an hour dedicated to mental health and wellness, Tuesday nights at 9pm