Feel Good City

1 August 2018

This month we are thinking about what makes us feel good about living in London.

With research telling us that we have never had so many people suffering with loneliness, that we are eating less well and moving less than before we’ve been thinking about what it is about our city that makes us feel good and where we should focus our energy to support our wellbeing.

London, like any city, can be extremely hard work; expensive, busy, fast paced, anonymous with a capacity to sap the energy and optimism out of the most chipper of person. But, we’ve been thinking a lot about health and well-being on our projects over the last few months and there are so many simple, free things we have found support us to feel good and these are things that resonate with people we have worked with in lots of different contexts. Now our projects are all focused around the built environment but because our approach is always to engage with local people we can see the impact of getting involved in our projects has on people.

We’ve collected the ideas, tricks and activites we have found work below, sifting them into headings that we think relate to the 5 ways to wellbeing.

Head Space: we so often find that it is not being able to access head space is the key barrier to getting involved in our projects so we’ve tried to think of ways that we can provide a pause in people’s weeks.

  • Visiting quiet gardens
  • Podcasts (maybe this shifts to learning)
  • Project spaces as places of sanctury
  • Music as an opportunity to pause and a moment to transport elsewhere
  • Books and Storytelling as an opportunity to take a break and enter a different world

Activities: just getting out of the house, going someplace new and seeing something unusual.
Taking groups to local places, museums, galleries and opportunities to access free culture has been a real hit.

  • Using your hands whether it’s planting a seed, collaging, sculpting or just flicking through a book, there is a real value in an activity that is tactile and different to the routine.
  • Collaborating – this is connected with talking, but doing pretty much any activity that you usually do alone with someone can be a really different experience, makes you learn and see things in a different way.

Moving: we all know in our heart of hearts that we should move a bit more than we do but finding time and energy can be tricky so try these things out to add a bit more movement to your routine.

  • Walking! This is easy, free and there are loads of lovely places to be outside in London.
  • Step counter apps have proved useful in motivating people to move a bit more than they might normally.

Eating Well: we see this as being relative and about encouraging people to take a step in the right direction.

  • Foraging, well this is free but feels just a little bit naughty
  • Community meals/ bring a dish sharing feast.
  • Sharing recipes and talking about good food and memorable meals

Talking: speaking to people, acknowledging people you pass can be a great way to connect to your neighbourhood and so often people tell us that through our work they have met new people and really enjoyed this.

  • Finding a common ground – whether its food, hobbies, pets or the classic -the weather, you’re bound to find something that everyone can relate to on some level (this is why we find a good cup of tea and biscuit is an excellent starting point for a chat!)
  • Embracing the routine: We often see the same people at times of the day or week in our local area. Whether it’s at an organised meeting or a spontaneous moment by the bus stop, we find that embracing this routine is a way for people who you might not expect to speak with eachother and wonderful things come out of it!

Learning: this is so key to our sense of feeling like we are endlessly growing and evolving but it can also seem like something formal, boring and too rigid so we have looked at informal ways that we can pique people’s curiosity.

  • A local skill swap: peer to peer learning is a great way to build in learning in a fun way that takes topics in so many different directions.
  • For those prepared to travel a bit the London lecture list sets out all the public lectures that are free to go.