Ca Va?

I’ve just come across this cool website. All Right. It’s another Christchurch initiative. (I love New Zealanders and their innovation) and is focussed on helping Cantabrians with the mental health issues relating to the Earthquake.

They utilise a wellbeing approach that was developed by the New Economics Foundation in the UK. “Economics? “I hear you say, “what would they know about mental health. Aren’t they those boring gits on the TV, or the ones setting out to cut the heart out of society”. If you remember back to your first Economics 101 lecture, economics is about the pursuit of happiness. The New Economics Foundation’s slogan is Economics as if people and the planet mattered, so it starts to make sense. The NEF have identified five evidence based ways to wellbeing


With the people around you. With family, friends, colleagues and neighbours. At home, work, school or in your local community. Think of  these as the cornerstones of your life and invest time in developing them. Building these connections will support and enrich you every day.

Be active…

Go for a walk or run. Step outside. Cycle. Play a game. Garden. Dance. Exercising makes you feel good. Most importantly, discover a physical activity you enjoy and that suits your level of mobility and fitness.

Take notice…

Be curious. Catch sight of the beautiful. Remark on the unusual. Notice  the changing seasons. Savour the moment, whether you are walking to work, 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.

Keep learning

Try something new. Rediscover an old interest. Sign up for that course. Take on a different responsibility at work. Fix a bike. Learn to play an instrument or how to cook your favourite food. Set a challenge you will enjoy achieving. Learning new things will make you more confident as well as being fun.


Do something nice for a friend, or a stranger. Thank someone. Smile. Volunteer your time. Join a community group. Look out, as well as in. Seeing yourself, and your happiness, linked to the wider community can be incredibly rewarding and creates connections with the people around you.

These are all pretty cool. And you know what? It’s common sense.  And cheap.  For me, I think I do 4 out of the 5 things without thinking too much, but the one that really sticks out for me is the Take Notice one. A few years ago, I became pretty overwhelmed with work and hit the wall. Not recommended (and I’ll write about this in the future). One of the songs that I listened to a lot at the time, going for walks, was 78 Saab’s Small Things. It helps to put things into balance. I remember taking 45 minutes walking with my daughter Emily, as she started to walk,to the shop at the end of our street. She stopped and examined every crack, weed, brick. It reminded me that these were all new experiences for her, and I had to relearn the wonder of the small, and the new.

The folks at All Right (what a great name, it’s like the French greeting Ca Va? All right?, a gentle prodding  enquiry) have based their social marketing campaign around these Five Ways to Wellbeing (you can hear Lucy D’Aeth from All Right talk about what they do on the ABC Doco I posted the other day). What I really, really like about their stuff is that they say it’s OK to feel a whole bunch of different things from I’m coping through to it’s shit (not quite in those words). This is quite important, as it validates the range of experiences that people go through and have, sometimes changing on an hourly basis. Particualrly those who are feeling like they are coping. Sometimes they hide their feelings because they think they should feel bad, because others are feeling bad.

The other thing that is really good is that they say “Canterbury has changed a lot, and we all have something to offer”. They don’t try to hide it. Like Harry Potter and Voldemort , he names he who must not be named, they are upfront about the challenges, and they are upfront that we all have a role, taking a strengths focus rather than a deficits focus.

There is also the inimitable kiwi humour, like the guys who shares his tip for feeling all right is to dress up in a chicken suit and walk into a chicken shop and demand his children back. I suspect if someone suggested that here, some mealy mouthed fun police would howl it down.

It’s worth a look at, share your top tip. Mine is Pick Up My Guitar And Play

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