my feet in running shoes on tarmac

Mental Health Awareness Week and learning about well-being

It’s mental health awareness week and I wanted to write a little about the Yale course I’ve been doing on the Science of Well-Being (it’s free!). It’s full of pretty great info on studies about happiness and how your brain works and what makes people happy.

The first 6 weeks of the course is all about what you think makes you happy vs what actually makes you happy and learning skills to help make you happier. Then you pick one of those skills and concentrate on practicing it regularly for the last month.


The skills you learn are called ‘rewirements’ during the course and you cover a few of them then choose one at the end to concentrate on developing. I’m in the last month and I’ve chosen exercise as my rewirement.

The study discussed in the course about exercise as a treatment for major depression was eye opening even though I already knew it was beneficial (Exercise Treatment for Major Depression: Maintenance of Therapeutic Benefit at 10 Months).

Basically, it showed that all groups (exercise, medication, and a mixture of both) were comparably beneficial to depression during the 4 month study. Then they revisited the participants 6 months later and found that those in the exercise group that continued the exercise had much lower relapse rates of depressive episodes than the other groups.

It’s nothing new that exercise helps with mental health and depression especially, but seeing it in this context was astounding.

I already knew exercise helped my mental well-being overall, so using these weeks to focus on creating regular exercise a habit and noting the changes in my happiness/mood is an engaging way to get my health back on track in multiple ways!


So I’m using the WOOP goal setting method to help me achieve my goal of being able to run the 5K route I currently walk by Christmas. WOOP (Wish, Outcome, Obstacle, Plan) helps by using mental contrasting to achieve your goals by acknowledging the obstacles you may face and planning what you will do when they come up.


If you’d told me back in July or August that I’d be feeling like a different person again in October, I wouldn’t have been convinced. Looking back it was a really difficult time where I had mixed feelings about so many things going on, but as time has gone on I’ve accepted what I needed to.

It’s not worth holding on to the frustration or negative feelings when you’re only making yourself suffer more. Moving on is the only way forward sometimes. I am thankful for the time I’ve had to move on somewhat quicker than I might otherwise have if I was stressing or having to deal with other things.