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What we need to stay well

There are lots of things we can do to help us stay well. One theory which can help us understand what our body and brains need is the Human Givens theory, which gives us 12 emotional needs we need to meet and balance to help us have mental wellbeing. Please click on an emotional need for more information.

Community

Community

Community helps us to feel connected, both to other people and the wider society. It is vital for emotional health and wellbeing. We are social beings and need to belong to groups in which we feel valued.

+ There are many ways people can belong to a community. For example; family, work, religion or hobbies. Why not think about joining a new group doing something you enjoy? There are many groups and activities free to the community in Suffolk. These vary from running and exercise, gardening, arts and crafts to walks or just having a cup of tea and a chat. To find out more, try searching in Suffolk InfoLink or ask in your local library.

Security

Security

We need to feel safe in the place that we live, work or study. When we feel safe we think clearly and respond to events sensibly,  whilst coping with change. When we feel unsafe we can become stressed and find it difficult to think about meeting other needs.

+ If you are having problems with housing or money it can be difficult to feel secure. Your local Citizens Advice Bureau can offer you lots of practical advice and support with these types of issues. Think about whether or not you feel secure in your relationship or your work, if you don’t, chat to someone you trust or your manager. You can also visit your GP if you feel it is impacting your wellbeing.

Sleep

Sleep

Sleep is both a physical and emotional need. The right kind of sleep is vital for our wellbeing, a healthy adult needs about 7 to 8 hours sleep a night and a little less as they get older. Sleep helps repair the body physically and dreaming helps us to process emotions we have felt throughout the day.

+ Sleep is often the first thing people struggle with during difficult times in their lives. It can also be affected by experiencing stress or mental health difficulties. If you are getting enough sleep but still waking up feeling tired, then you may not be getting a good quality of sleep. This could be down to feeling stressed or anxious and having more of the stress hormone cortisol in your system. Exercise is a great way of reducing stress and improving sleep, or try relaxing with a book before bed.

If you are worried about getting too much or too little sleep, chat to your GP. You can find more information about sleep problems here.

Privacy

Privacy

As well as needing to feel connected to others, we also need to to have privacy. This means having enough space and time to reflect on our day, or learn from life experiences. Try to find time, free from demands, every day to be by yourself – even if it’s only a few minutes.

+ Finding time to have privacy can be very difficult, especially if you have children or care for someone. Try to plan some time in to your day, even if it’s just five minutes. You could read a book, walk around the block or try some meditation.

Achievement

Achievement

The need for achievement is met by learning new skills. It can also be met by being competent in our work, hobbies and relationships. Learning new skills is useful for both low and high self-esteem and can help us feel stretched, which is very different to stressed.

+ There are lots of things we can do to help us meet our need for achievement, big and small. Try cooking a new recipe each week, taking on a new job or a new responsibility at work or learning a new creative skill. Your local library will be able to help you find many different groups or activities, for more information click here.

Status

Status

Status or respect means to be valued by others – friends, colleagues, peers and the wider world. It helps us to understand our role within the community.

+ Think about whether you feel respected or valued at work or at home. If you don’t, perhaps you could chat to a manager, partner or family member about how you could feel more valued.

Food and Drink

Food and Drink

Food and Drink is an obvious physical need, however there are many links to mental wellbeing. For example, we use caffeine or alcohol to stimulate or relax us. We can also use sugary or fatty foods for comfort.

+ There are many ways in which food and drink can affect us. Caffeine for example can cause difficulties in sleeping for some people, so perhaps think about not having tea, coffee or caffeinated drinks after midday. If you are worried about comfort eating, having difficulties eating or not having an appetite, visit your GP or talk to someone you trust. You can find some information about food and mood here.

Attention

Attention

Attention is like a form of nutrition, too much and too little is bad for us. As we grow, we learn how to share attention and to give and receive it. By sharing positive attention, people, families and communities grow and become healthier. Receiving negative attention can have an effect on our mental wellbeing and self-esteem.

+ Think about the attention you receive from relationships or friendships. Does it make you feel good about yourself and positive? If relationships are having a negative effect on you, try talking to someone you trust. Giving positive attention can help us feel good, pay someone a compliment or smile at someone in the street!

Emotional Connection

Emotional Connection

Emotional connection means having a relationship where we are accepted by another person in a way in which lets us be ourselves. This could be with a relative, partner, friend, neighbour or even a pet.

+ Making emotional connections can be difficult and take effort to maintain. Try phoning a friend or relative once a week, join a new group to meet new people or think about having a pet if you are able to. If you are struggling to meet new people, ask about groups in your local library or click here for more information about Meet Up Mondays.

Movement

Movement

All living things that have brains need to move, and this need is directly linked to our mental wellbeing. Exercise also burns off cortisol, the stress hormone, and it releases endorphins which make us feel better.

+ We don’t need to run a marathon or climb a mountain to feel benefits from being active. Walking is a great way of helping us relax and clear our minds, try some gardening or even hoovering! If you are able or interested, look at local walking or fitness groups, try a new sport or have a go at yoga at home. If you are interested in gardening, click here for more information on Suffolk Mind’s Greencare groups. ActivLives also offer a range of activities across Suffolk, click here to find out more.

Meaning and Purpose

Meaning and Purpose

Meaning and Purpose helps us to cope when life becomes difficult and stressful. We meet this need by being stretched mentally and physically through learning new skills, helping others and having a sense that we are connected to something larger than ourselves.

+ Volunteering is a great way of having meaning and purpose. If you can spare any time, have a look at opportunities here. If you are able to work, think about what meaning and purpose your job gives you or whether you feel connected to your friends and family.

Control

Control

To meet the need for control we need to feel that we have some say over our lives and personal choices. A healthy way to meet the need for control is to take personal responsibility for what we can influence or change, while accepting that there are some things that we cannot control.

+ Try writing a list of things you would like to achieve or change and be aware of things in your life which you can’t control and how this may affect you. If you feel like your need for control is affecting you life, visit your GP or talk to someone you trust.