The power of 5

Blog Post by Tricia Brindle 05 September 2014

When it comes to health and wellbeing, 5 seems to be the magic number... 5 a day, 5 sessions of exercise a week, the 5 ways to wellbeing. 

Can you name the five ways to wellbeing? No – well by the end of this post you’ll have got your head round them. It’s a phrase that’s used frequently by health professionals and a useful shorthand to reference.

When I first heard people talking about the five ways to wellbeing I thought it sounded interesting but wasn’t really sure what it meant.  So to save you some time here's a summary of what they are and, more importantly, understanding how you meet them through the activities you do yourself or provide to others through your work. 

In 2008 the UK government project’s Foresight Project on Mental Capital and Wellbeing asked NEF (the New Economic Foundation) to develop the five ways to Wellbeing to communicate its key findings. The resulting report 'The Five Ways to Wellbeing' were developed by NEF as a set of evidence-based actions which promote people’s wellbeing.  They are:

  • Connect
  • Be active
  • Take notice
  • Keep learning
  • Give

These activities are simple things individuals can do in their everyday lives. They’ve been used by health organisations, public sector, community and education in the UK and worldwide to help people take action to improve their wellbeing. 

A simple example might be:

You take a walk, with friends in the countryside – at the very least you're meeting 2 of the 5 – be active and connect. You offer to take your elderly neighbour’s dog with you (it needs the exercise too) and you’ve added give. Your friend points out some cotton grass plugs and explains how their  roots help stabilise peatlands, reducing erosion and contributing to sequestration (thought I I’d get that in) – so, a double dose  - take notice and keep learning

There you have it - 5 ways to wellbeing  without even thinking – it’s not rocket science.  You can reference five ways to wellbeing with confidence – put it into action yourself and show how your organisation is already using them to support its community. And if you still can’t remember them, then the Five Ways to Well-being postcards provide an easy prompt to remind you and share the message.

And it's not just health and wellbeing that finds the number 5 so important...looking at some of my colleagues’ blogs I find

So that’s the power of 5 – use it!


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