Pathways to Wellness

conversation • connection • commitment

Five ways to well-being

The New Economics Foundation, a think-and-do tank in the United Kingdom, was asked by their government to find out the most effective ways of maintaining or improving emotional well-being through actions that can be easily incorporated into daily living. Over 400 researchers from around the world contributed to this study. The result?  The Five ways to well-being.


Feeling close to and being valued by others is a basic human need; having at least 4 close, rewarding relationships promotes emotional well-being. Having a larger number of more casual relationships builds connectedness within the broader community. Both strengthening and broadening relationships are important to well-being.

At their best, relationships are a source of information, advice, and ideas; practical assistance and support; encouragement and motivation; companionship; introductions to new people and opportunities; and feedback about ourselves.  Read more about the power of social connections in Relationships matter.

Be active

Being active is good prevention and good treatment. People who are physically active are less likely to experience anxiety and depression; and physical activity can also play an important role in helping people overcome anxiety and depression.   Being physically active helps build self-confidence and our sense of mastery.

You can get even more benefit by being physically active outdoors. Being in touch with nature has a positive impact on both physical and mental well-being for people of all ages. Not many places in Canada offer nature at our doorstep the way Yukon does. Read more about the benefits of nature at Nature nurtures. And the best news of all is that walking is probably the best all-round exercise for most people.  Check out more information at Walking – a simple solution.

Take notice

Being aware of our inner world of thoughts, feelings and sensations is associated with better emotional health – awareness is the first step in understanding our emotional world. Knowing what makes us happy, joyful and content is as important as knowing what makes us sad, or angry or frustrated. Self-awareness is the key to making choices based on what is really important to us, and to maintaining good relationships with others.

It is also important to be able to turn our attention outward to the world around us. Enjoying a beautiful sunset or watching some children at play can distract us from the ups and downs of everyday living, and negative self-talk and emotions. It also reminds us that we are part of something much bigger than ourselves.

Keep learning

From childhood on, learning is important to our physical, social and intellectual well-being. Life-long learning builds self-confidence and social networks. It provides an opportunity to meet new people who share a common interest.

Life-long learning includes formal schooling, play, and informal learning – teachings that are passed down from generation to generation. All forms of learning increase overall health and quality of life at all ages. Learning is an important way of keeping a person’s mind active and sharp. It is better to stretch and challenge your mind than stagnate. In fact, some people say you don’t stop learning when you grow old; you grow old when you stop learning!


Helping others, volunteering, and working in groups are associated with an increased sense of self-worth and positive feelings like happiness and life satisfaction. It turns out that giving has a greater impact on well-being than receiving.

Contributing to one’s community creates a sense of belonging and connectedness to others, and it creates a stronger, more supportive and more inclusive community. When reciprocity – the act of giving and receiving – becomes the community norm, we all benefit.

A starting place

The five ways to well-being will not solve the emotional problems people have; there will still be a need for mental health counselling and addictions services for some people. What the “5 ways” do offer is a way for all people to take steps every day to protect and promote their own emotional well-being. Many of these steps will also have a positive impact on someone else. And there is no better time to start than today.

Learn more