Mental Wellness

Mental health reflects a state of emotional and spiritual wellbeing within every person. When we have positive mental health, we feel like we are in control of our lives, can cope with stress, and are a part of our community. We can still have hard times and feel angry, sad, and anxious when in good mental health. However, having these feelings does not mean that you have a mental illness.

Mental illness includes a range of medical conditions that can be diagnosed. When not managed, a mental illness can cause our thoughts, moods, and behaviours to have a negative impact on how we function in our daily lives. Symptoms of a mental illness can range from mild to severe and may occur for a short time, come and go, or be constant.

People who live with a mental illness can still have positive mental health, and a person can have poor mental health without a mental illness. We can all learn how to cope with life events and make positive health choices to improve our mental health. 

Five Ways to Wellbeing

Every person can take steps to improve their mental health and wellbeing, such as trying the Five Ways to Wellbeing.

The Five Ways to Wellbeing are simple actions that you can take to improve your mental health and wellbeing. You are likely already doing some of them. Expand the actions below for a description and some examples of how you can try the Five Ways today. You do not have to do them in order, and you do not have to do them all at once. We encourage you to mix it up and try as many activities as possible.

The Five Ways to Wellbeing is not intended to replace professional support for mental health concerns. If you need mental health support please contact your health care provider or access one of the available local support services.

If you are experiencing a mental health crisis call 911, your local crisis line or go to your nearest hospital emergency room where crisis support is available.

Connect: spend time with other people and in your community

Ways to connect:

  • Call or video chat with a friend or family member instead of texting.
  • Chat with colleagues or other students during  your break. Meet new people. Deepen the connections with those you know.
  • Volunteer in your community.
  • Check Explore Waterloo Region for community events.
Be active: move your body
Ways to be active:
  • Walk or bike to the store or to school. If you need to drive, park your car further from the entrance.
  • Go for a walk after a meal. Take family or friends with you. Let them choose the destination.
  • Join a sports team.
Take notice: pay attention to the simple things in your everyday life
Ways to take notice:
  • Spend time outside and enjoy nature. Take in the birds, the sun, the rain, the flowers, notice all the smells, colours, sounds, and enjoy the moment.
  • Ask friends or family to recall their favourite part of the day and actively listen to their story.
  • Learn techniques to become more aware of the world around you. Try “Stop - Calm - Rest – Notice.” Stop, take ten mindful breaths, rest, notice the sights, sounds, and smells around you and the feelings within you. Repeat often.
Keep learning: grow your skills and knowledge
Ways to keep learning:
  • Try a new recipe for dinner on Tuesdays.
  • Learn a new hobby by taking classes, watching videos online or from books or websites.
  • Learn about your community. Keep up with local news, read about local history, and find local artists at an art gallery.
  • Visit one of the Region of Waterloo’s museums.
Give: do something nice for others

Ways to give back:

  • Do something nice for friends or family.
  • Compliment someone on something they did well.
  • Share your skills with others by volunteering in areas that interest you. Check the Volunteer Action Centre for opportunities. 

Support services

Additional resources


Five Ways to Wellbeing’ Foresight Report developed by the New Economics Foundation 2008.

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