Simple activities such as gardening or mending a bicycle can protect mental health and help people to lead more fulfilled and productive lives, a panel of scientists has found.
A "five-a-day" programme of social and personal activities can improve mental wellbeing, much as eating fruit and vegetables enhances physical health, according to Foresight, the government think-tank. Its Mental Capital and Wellbeing report, which was compiled by more than 400 scientists, proposes a campaign modelled on the nutrition initiative, to encourage behaviour that will make people feel better about themselves.
People should try to connect with others, to be active, to take notice of their surroundings, to keep learning and to give to their neighbours and communities, the document says.
Its advice to "take notice" includes suggestions such as "catch sight of the beautiful" and "savour the moment, whether walking to work, eating lunch or talking to friends". Examples of learning include mending a bike or trying to play a musical instrument.