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Five Ways to Wellbeing

How can we improve our mental health?

by Claire Law

Suitable for Whole School (Sec)


To consider the Five Ways to Wellbeing model for improved mental health.

Preparation and materials

  • You will need the PowerPoint slides that accompany this assembly (Five Ways to Wellbeing) and the means to display them.
  • Further information about the Five Ways to Wellbeing model for improved mental health is available at:


  1. I’d like to set you a challenge: you will have 30 seconds to think for yourself, and then a further 30 seconds to share your ideas with the person next to you. The question is: ‘Can you name five fruits or vegetables that begin with the letter “a”?’

    Show Slide 1 and wait for the time to elapse, reminding the students to share their ideas with a partner halfway through.

  2. Thank you, everyone. Let’s see how you did on that. Hands up if you can name three . . . and keep your hand up if you managed to name four. Finally, who managed to name five? Well done on that: it’s not easy to think when you are under pressure.

  3. Now let’s see if you managed to name any of the fruits or vegetables on the slides.

    Show Slide 2.

    Hands up if one of your five was ‘apple’. That was an easy one!

  4. Show Slide 3.

    And hands up if one of your five was ‘apricot’.

  5. Show Slide 4.

    Did anyone say ‘avocado’? It’s often eaten in savoury dishes, but it’s actually a fruit, not a vegetable, because its seed is on the inside rather than the outside.

  6. Show Slide 5.

    Hands up if you said ‘asparagus’. That’s a vegetable.

  7. Show Slide 6.

    And the last one on the slides is another vegetable. This one is a bit more unusual perhaps: it’s an artichoke. Did anyone name that one?

  8. All this talk of fruit and vegetables is a handy reminder that a healthy diet is good for us. In fact, we are encouraged to eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day. Our five-a-day can be fresh, frozen or tinned fruit or vegetables. We’re encouraged to eat a rainbow if we can, consuming fruit and vegetables of different colours: red strawberries, oranges, yellow peppers, green beans, blueberries, indigo plums and purple sprouting broccoli, for example. Eating our five-a-day is good for both our physical and mental health.

  9. However, there is another five-a-day that’s good for us, too.

    Show Slide 7.

    The Five Ways to Wellbeing are steps that we can take that have been proven to increase our sense of wellbeing.

    Wellbeing means much more than simply not feeling ill or fed up. The World Health Organization defines health as ‘a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing’. When we feel happy, healthy and content, we have positive wellbeing.

  10. The Five Ways to Wellbeing are:

    - Connect
    - Be active
    - Take notice
    - Keep learning
    - Give

    We’ve already done a couple of these today. When we were thinking of fruits and vegetables that began with the letter ‘a’ and discussing our answers with a partner, we were connecting and learning.

    Let’s look in detail at the Five Ways to Wellbeing model for improved mental health.

  11. Connect. Good relationships are important for our wellbeing. We connect with others when we eat lunch together, chat with a friend, switch off the TV to talk or play a game with our family and volunteer to help younger students. When we do these things, we experience greater connection with others, which is really good for us.

  12. Be active. Being physically active improves our physical fitness and mental wellbeing by raising our self-esteem and giving us a sense of achievement. Exercise - whether it’s walking, hula-hooping, dancing, football or anything else - causes chemical changes in our brains that can help to change our mood for the better.

  13. Take notice. Paying more attention to things around us can help us to feel calm and peaceful. Noticing our thoughts and feelings, our body and the world around us can help us to enjoy life more and understand ourselves better. Sometimes, this is called mindfulness.

  14. Keep learning. When we adopt an attitude that there is always something to learn, we increase our wellbeing. Learning a new skill or hobby can boost our self-esteem and confidence.

  15. Give. Giving our time, skills or resources to help others is proven to help us, too! Research suggests that acts of giving and kindness can help to improve our mental wellbeing by creating positive feelings and a sense of reward, giving us feelings of purpose and self-worth and helping us to connect with other people.

Time for reflection

Our RE teachers are probably not surprised to hear about the Five Ways to Wellbeing model, but it is relatively new. It was published in a report that was commissioned by the government and included evidence from over 80 scientific trials and papers. However, most of the content of the Five Ways to Wellbeing model draws on ancient wisdom and teaching from world religions.

Show Slide 8.

The Bible reminds us that we don’t exist in isolation: we have neighbours and other people around to connect with. We are encouraged to love our neighbour. In addition, Islam, like many religions, teaches that we can benefit from connection with God through prayer. The Qur’an teaches that God is connected to us and will never forsake us.

Let’s consider how we might find connection with others and with God. What might that mean for us today?

Pause to allow time for thought.

Show Slide 9. 

Being physically active is a way in which we can be good stewards of our bodies, taking care of the gift that God gave us. That’s the belief of many world religions. Some religions encourage us not to eat or drink things that are bad for our health, and encourage physical activity. The Bible says that our body is a temple. By looking after our body, we are showing God respect.

Let’s take a moment to consider what being active might mean for us today.

Pause to allow time for thought.

Show Slide 10.

The Five Ways to Wellbeing model encourages us to take notice. This is a core practice of Buddhism, where meditation and mindfulness are important tools that help towards enlightenment. Other religions encourage us to spend time with God in contemplative prayer, quietly noticing God’s presence with us. This practice may include thanksgiving prayer, where the person praying thanks God for all the good things that they notice as gifts from God.

Let’s pause to reflect on what taking notice might mean for us. How do we feel about meditation, mindfulness, contemplation or thanksgiving prayer?

Pause to allow time for thought.

Show Slide 11.

Many religions emphasize that we have been created by God, and God has given us gifts and abilities. It is our job to use these gifts wisely, and be good stewards of what we have. Many religions encourage learning and studying as a way of using our brains wisely. That is certainly the case in Judaism, where children who are about to become adults in terms of their faith are encouraged to study and learn by heart a section of their holy book, the Torah.

Let’s consider how we might keep learning today. How might the sense that our brains are a gift from God affect us?

Pause to allow time for thought.

Show Slide 12.

All world religions point to the benefits of giving and sharing with others.

- In Sikhism, there is a practical demonstration of this. After religious services, the Sikh gurdwara holds a langar meal, which is a free meal that anyone who is in need of food is welcome to share.
- In Islam, one of the Five Pillars is charity – giving to those in need.
- In Christianity, Jesus taught of the need to feed the hungry and visit the lonely, and many Christians demonstrate this in practical terms. 

Let’s pause to consider what giving to others means to us, and how we might live out the call to care for those in need.

Pause to allow time for thought.

Dear God,
We pray that today, we might experience a sense of wellbeing and satisfaction about life.
We ask you to help us to remember the practical things that we can do to support our own wellbeing.
We thank you for the ways in which both science and religion remind us of what works towards health and happiness.
Help us today to feel able to connect, be active, take notice, keep learning and give.
Please help us especially to be kind and generous to ourselves and others when we feel unwell and unhappy, and have poor wellbeing.


‘The blessing’, sung by churches all over the UK, available at: (6.46 minutes long)

Publication date: October 2020   (Vol.22 No.10)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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