#SelfCareWeek - our take on the five ways to wellbeing

This week, 15 - 21 November 2021, is #SelfCareWeek. It's all about how we can take good care of ourselves.



This year's theme is Practise Self Care for Life, looking at how self care can be embedded and supported across communities, families and generations, throughout our lifetime. The Self Care Forum has been organising self-care week since 2011.


This year self care week has come at the end of COP26 - which for many has been an incredibly stressful and difficult time. Many people struggle with 'climate anxiety' - a feeling of fear, worry or tension linked to climate change - in their everyday lives and this is likely intensified in the aftermath of a COP26 labelled as a 'failure' and a 'COP out'. A recent global survey explored the depth of anxiety that many young people have about climate change.


The five ways to wellbeing were developed by the New Economics Foundation as the result of a commission by Foresight, the UK government's futures think-tank, as part of the Foresight Project on Mental Capital and Wellbeing.


We're going to take a look at the five ways to wellbeing, with a Climate Action Leeds twist!


Connect

Human connection is important, and there's lots of evidence to show this. As human beings, we need a 'tribe' - the people get us, and that we get - in order to feel seen and valued.


As well as helping our mental health, connectedness is a big part of the climate action movement, alongside community and solidarity, it means we can feel connected to something greater. Together we are stronger and we can take more effective action to tackle the climate crisis. Connecting with likeminded people has its benefits, especially for those experiencing climate anxiety - by providing a safe space to discuss fears and giving a sense of hope as we plan and act together.

  • Try make a new connection - that might be with someone new, or someone you already know but would like to be more connected to.

  • Find a local climate action group and connect with them. If you're in Otley, Seacroft, Garforth or Beeston why not check out one of our local climate action hubs.

  • Connect with your local community - is there a community centre or place where people gather - go along, introduce yourself.

  • Reconnect with someone you've not seen or spoken to in a while - leave them a voice note so they can hear your voice.

Be active

Physical activity is crucial for self-care, it might not feel like it when you're huffing and puffing away, but as well as keeping our body fit and healthy, it's doing wonders for the mind. The Mental Health Foundation reports that regular physical activity is associated with lower rates of stress, depression and anxiety across all age groups. For adults who are physically active everyday it is believed that there is a 20-30% lower risk of depression and dementia.

Being active in nature is even better! Do some activity outside, in a park or green space, and soak up the natural environment you're in and appreciate the wonders of nature.


Remember, exercise doesn't need to be particularly intense for you to feel good. It includes daily activities such as gardening or playing with children, and getting around by walking or cycling.


Choosing to be active by walking, cycling, or running instead of driving benefits the environment too. It is reported that by completing five journeys of just 2 km a week on foot instead of in your car you can decrease your carbon footprint by 86 kg a year. It will also help reduce the air pollution in your area - improving the health of your community.

Today, why not be active to help yourself, and take climate action? Here are a few ideas:

  • Walk to work or school - try with a colleague or fellow parent - so you can ‘connect’ as well

  • Commit to cycling to work - get yourself a bike or repair yours at the Sunday Service in Chapeltown

  • Go for a walk in nature at lunchtime

  • Walk when doing your shopping or errands instead of taking the car - it will help you shop local too!

  • Cycle to a friend's house or that social event and leave the car at home

Take notice

By 'taking notice' and living in the moment we may be able to improve our wellbeing in the immediate aftermath of COP26 as we look to our amazing climate movement community. In this moment there is amazing work going on right across the country and particularly here in Leeds.


Only a short time ago, on Saturday 6th November, we saw thousands of passionate people take to the streets of Leeds City Centre to call for action on climate change - with thousands more across the globe. Outside the COP26 official negotiations thousands of people from the climate justice movement came together in Glasgow and online for a counter-COP (The People's Summit) to strategise for bottom-up systems change.

Take note of the environment around you, recognising the amazing work going on to tackle climate change right on your doorstep and beyond. Here are a few tips on how to do this:

  • Take the time to research the climate action taking place in your area (if there's a lack of it, that could be the perfect opportunity for you to start something)

  • Check out your local climate action group, or any group you've not taken much notice of before

  • Take a different perspective on the outcomes of COP26 - decisions from world leaders may not match our ambitions but action outside of the official negotiations provides hope

  • Take note of the natural environment and seasonal changes happening now - the long shadows of the low sun through colourful leaves

Learn

Everyday's a school day - continued learning throughout life enhances self-esteem, encourages social interaction and a more active life helping to promote wellbeing.

Learning is key to being informed to take climate action and for many can be a source of motivation. However, be aware of how too much 'learning' can affect you; it can lead us down a wormhole that only intensifies the feeling of climate anxiety so step back and lean-in to your connections and nature when it gets too much.


Why not learn something new today?

  • Watch a new documentary or docudrama - The Trick or Black Black Oil are two recent shows

  • Sign up for a course - check out our Induction Workshops we'll hopefully have a new round coming soon

  • Read the news or a book - take a look at 'Active Hope' by Joanna Macy and Chris Johnstone

  • Set up a local discussion group so you can listen to others and learn from them

  • Research something you’ve always wondered about

Give

It has been found that individuals who participate in social and community, and are more interested in helping others are more likely to rate themselves as happy.

Research into actions for promoting happiness has shown that committing an act of kindness once a week over a six-week period is associated with an increase in wellbeing.


We think giving some of your time towards community climate action is the best form of giving, but there's also lots of small charitable groups in Leeds you could donate to via Give Leeds.


The form of climate action that our community hubs often take also provides benefits and happiness to local communities - from the 'Fruit and Veg Box' campaign and the Otley Nature Network by Otley 2030 to the Seacroft Forest Garden supported by Climate Action Seacroft.


Why not support your local group to take climate action and give back to your community?


People supporting Otley 2030's Fruit and Veg Box campaign in June this year