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Five Ways to Wellbeing: Revamped

by Eleanor Thompson, Alliances Manager at Fivetran and member of the GSA Executive Council

Right back at the beginning of lockdown I wrote a piece on the Five Ways to Wellbeing. It was helpful for some people at the time but I think it’s in need of a more realistic refresh. The pandemic has continued for longer than I think many of us expected and for me, the novelty of Zoom quizzes, Instagram workouts, and baking banana bread has really started to wear off. 

As a recap, the Five Ways to Wellbeing are as follows:

  1. Connect
  2. Be active
  3. Take notice
  4. Keep learning
  5. Give

Research shows a combination of these five things enhance individual wellbeing but it can look overwhelming, trying to fit five things into an already back to back day/week, or motivate yourself to do these when you’re struggling can be difficult. This time I’ve offered some advice on how you can tie these together making them more manageable and how to overcome some of the things getting in the way. Think of it like chucking some of your five fruits and veg a day into a smoothie.


This for me is really the cornerstone of this framework and the one I've spent the most time on. It’s the one that requires input from someone else and you can tie it into all of the other ways, but it’s also the one that is more difficult during a period of lockdown and in the world of remote working. 

  • Why does it matter? Connecting with others helps us with feelings of belonging, acceptance, inclusion and self worth, all contributing to positive wellbeing.
  • But why is it harder when I'm working remotely? Our communications are often higher in quantity and lower in quality, we’re exhausted, there’s potential ambiguity, and as a result we don’t have the energy to connect with our families and friends as much as we'd like to. It's also harder to build trust with people we've never met, which I'll discuss further in my next post.
  • OK, what can I do? Lots! Here’s a couple of ideas, but feel free to add to this list in the comments: 
  1. Assess the frequency and type of communication - short interactions, meaningful conversations, complex problem solving and social connections are all important for wellbeing, try and get a mixture into the day, colour code them in your calendar if it makes it easier. 
  2. Mix up the communication method - do all of our meetings really need to be a 30 or 60 minute video call? Can we use Slack, give someone a phone call, a video message, walk and talk, a VoiceNote? Take a look at your calendar and see where you can switch it up. Video calls are still incredibly beneficial and can help reduce ambiguity in complex situations, but they can zap our energy so I'll be using them more wisely.
  3. Change the agenda - most of my calls follow a similar format now, both personally and professionally, they've fallen into a bit of a routine. Recently we've tried to switch it up with drawing competitions, short group meditation, random fun questions to kick off and story telling. What else can we do differently and how can we include one or two of the other five ways in our connections?

Be active: To everyone out there running 10k’s for fun, I tip my non-existent hat to you. I did one week of “couch to 5k” only to conclude I hate running and gave up. Being active is important but it doesn’t have to be unenjoyable, what physical exercise can you include that you enjoy? I’ll be getting out for more walks, especially to connect with other people, and 5 minute “dance around the house” breaks because yes - they count. 

Take notice: Really this is just about taking some time to be present, enjoy the moment and increase your awareness. If you’ve never tried meditation before then I highly recommend it, if that’s not your thing then can you take a few minutes when you’re being active to take in your surroundings? Can you take 5 minutes between meetings to pause and enjoy a hot drink or a piece of music?

Keep learning: I hope if you’re reading this that you’re learning something or at least taking notice, it doesn’t need to be a new language or an academic program in order to have a positive impact on your wellbeing. Can you read a book or listen to an audiobook while you’re being active? Can you connect with a friend or colleague to learn about something they’re passionate about? 

Give: There are so many ways we can give, it doesn’t need to be anything massive like running a marathon or doing a skydive for charity, though that would be amazing and would definitely keep you active. Can you do something kind that will also strengthen your relationship with someone? Educate someone on a topic to help them keep learning? Take a moment to take notice of someone then connect with them and tell them how great they are?

Our wellbeing is so important, now more than ever, but I know from personal experience it can very easily drop to the bottom of the priority list when we’re busy. In an ideal world we’d all have more time set aside to focus on this but in the absence of that, how can we get the most benefit from the time we have?

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