Counselling Service

What is wellbeing?

Wellbeing is a measure of how well we function day to day and how we feel about ourselves and our lives as a whole. Measuring wellbeing has recently become a priority for many governments across the world as research into wellbeing and happiness made it increasingly clear that there is much more to wellbeing than material and financial wealth.

People who enjoy high levels of wellbeing are described as flourishing. In this context, flourishing means that the person enjoys feelings of happiness, contentment and curiosity and is able to engage fully with what is going on around them. Flourishing also means functioning well in the world; the person experiences positive relationships, has some control over their life and has a sense of purpose.

It’s easy to see, then, that wellbeing isn’t simply the opposite of ill-being; simply looking at what causes distress won’t necessarily help us to identify the factors or drivers that give rise to wellbeing. For this reason the government-funded project, Mental Capital and Wellbeing was charged with identifying wellbeing drivers and the New Economics Foundation (NEF) was commissioned to identify and communicate how to put those drivers into practice. In other words, what do we need to do to flourish? NEF came up with the Five Ways to Wellbeing: Connect, Be Active, Take Notice, Keep Learning and Give.

The University of Manchester wants to build on this common-sense and pragmatic approach to wellbeing so that all students and staff can benefit. It has therefore included, Be Healthy to emphasise the importance of behaviours that promote good health and personal safety; the University’s programme is called the Manchester Six Ways to Wellbeing.

Wellbeing events, including the annual Wellbeing Day, are designed to encourage us all to think about how we manage our own wellbeing, and the steps we can take to recognise and reduce stress. They offer an opportunity to take time out to reflect, relax and find balance in our daily lives.


Make contact with the people around you; with friends, family, colleagues, neighbours and the community. Think of these as the cornerstones of your life and invest time in them. Get to know new people or rekindle old friendships – building these connections will support and enrich you every day.

Learn & Discover

Make time to try something new. Rediscover an old interest. Learn to juggle, cook a new recipe, play an instrument, say hello in a new language. Set a challenge you’ll enjoy. Learning new things will make you more confident, inspire you, as well as being fun.

Be Active

Go for a walk or run. Step outside. Cycle. Try a new sport or activity. Dance, play a game or dig the garden. Most importantly, discover an activity you enjoy and one that suits you. Being active makes you feel good.

Take Notice

Lift your eyes from the next deadline or demand. Catch sight of beautiful things. Appreciate the unusual. Notice the changing seasons, sit and watch the world go by. Savour the moment, whether you are on the way to university, eating lunch or talking to friends. Be aware of the world around you and what you are feeling. Reflecting on your experiences will help you appreciate what matters to you.


Do something for a friend, colleague or stranger. Thank someone. Smile. Volunteer your time. Help a neighbour or community group. Be kind to yourself and others. Seeing yourself, and your happiness, linked to the wider community can be incredibly rewarding.

Be Healthy

Look after yourself – stay safe, respect your body, make healthy choices. Live, love and laugh. Cook real food and share a meal. Sleep away stress, take time off-line, spend a while enjoying silence. Being healthy will help you feel confident, alert and get the most out of life.

Health and fitness

SPORT offer a range of 'Be Active' courses, usually these courses are 8 weeks long, giving you the opportunity to learn and progress with guidance from expert instructors. A wide range of courses are offered through SPORT including for example, Tai Chi for Health, Hatha Yoga and Pilates see more at Be Active

Wellbeing Week and Wellbeing events

The start of a new academic year is a great time to try something new and is usually the time chosen for Wellbeing Week. During Wellbeing Week there are lots of fun and completely free activities to take part in. Some of the things on offer include Mindfulness, Massage, Yoga, Dance, Healthy Breakfast, Bean Bag relaxation. Watch this space for details of the next Wellbeing Week and future Wellbeing events.

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