Steps to better wellbeing

Steps to better wellbeing

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When trying to improve mental health, remember that different things work for different people at different times. Only try what you feel comfortable with, and don’t put too much pressure on yourself. If something isn’t working for you (or doesn’t feel possible just now), you can try something else. Take a look at the 5 steps to wellbeing

Try to open up and talk

You might feel that you know plenty of people, but what is actually wrong is that you don’t feel close to them, or they don’t give you the care and attention you need. In this situation, it might help to open up about how you feel to friends and family. If you don’t feel comfortable opening up to the people you know, you could try speaking with a therapist or a using a peer support service.

Young man talking in therapy, opening up, confiding

“Be brave and reach out to someone. It doesn’t have to be face-to-face; you could share a post on social media.”

Breaking the cycle of anxiety and feeling unable to cope

There are positive things that we can try and do when we feel anxious, panicky or feel that we can’t cope. These tips could not only help with short term symptoms, but help build resilience and getting back on track long term. Even more importantly, they don’t involve money! By being more self-aware it is possible to begin to recognise the signs of a panic attack or feeling anxious BEFORE it gets too bad. Some of the tips below will help you to cope but can actively build confidence and ability to cope.  

Relaxation exercises

Take a deep breath – Controlled breathing

It might sound simple, but controlled breathing can be a useful tool for feeling calmer quickly and reducing feelings of stress and anxiety. This technique is easy to memorise and can be practised almost anywhere. Practise this for as long as you need to feel the benefits:

  • Breathe in for four seconds
  • Hold your breath for four seconds
  • Breathe out for four seconds
  • Wait four seconds before repeating

Keep repeating this until you start to feel calmer. Look for both mental and physical signs, like your thoughts and your heartbeat slowing down.

You may already know what triggers your negative thoughts and feelings. If you do, try using this breathing technique if you know you will encounter a certain trigger, or immediately after.

This short video shows you how to breathe which can really help reduce feelings of anxiety and stress and get you into the right frame of mind for sleep.  See the links for other breathing exercises you can try.

“Another thing that has worked for me is to lay down on my back and rest both my hands on my stomach/chest. Concentrating on my breathing and feeling my natural up and down movement makes me stop overthinking.”


Some people find it helps to try meditation techniques, like mindfulness. You could learn these at a class or from self-help guides.

“A nicely made bed helps. If I’m having an awful day, and the only thing I’ve managed to find the energy to do is make my bed, then that’s OK.”

Look after yourself

Think about how some of the following are affecting how you feel and whether you can do anything to change them.

importance of sleep, mental health

Try to get enough sleep

Getting too little or too much sleep can have a big impact on how you feel. See our page on Sleep for more information.

healthy eating improves mood and energy levels

Think about your diet

Eating regularly and keeping your blood sugar stable can make a difference to your mood and energy levels. Read more here.

drug use prevents someone from dealing with underlying problems

Avoid illegal drugs

While you might feel drugs might help cope with difficult feelings, in the long run they can make you feel worse and can prevent you from dealing with underlying problems. Speak to a GP if you think you need medication to help.

don't drink to cope

Don’t drink to cope

Again, the problems will still be there when you sober up, so much better to get help from the wonderful organisations and help lines there to support you.

Spending time in green space can help your wellbeing

Spend time outside

Spending time in green space can help your wellbeing. Read more here.

Exercise can be really helpful for your mental wellbeing

Try to do some physical activity

Exercise can be really helpful for your mental wellbeing, and some people find it helps improve their self-esteem. Read more here.

spending time around animals can help with feelings of loneliness

Spend time with animals

Some people find spending time around animals can help with feelings of loneliness, whether through owning a pet or spending time around animals in their natural environment. If it is possible where you live, you could try visiting a local community or city farm – the organisation Social Farms and Gardens has a list of outdoor community projects across the UK, many of which have animals available to the public.

5 ways to wellbeing

The NHS have developed five ways to better mental health wellbeing which research shows can really make a difference to the quality of our lives reducing depression and improving out mental health.

Read next Help and support for mental health