Positive psychological interventions work best, though, when done together — individually they have little effect.
These techniques work well for people in good health and those with physical and mental illnesses, the research found.
However, it is important to find the right technique that fits you.
Mr Joep Van Agteren, the study’s first author, said:
“During stressful and uncertain periods in our lives, pro-actively working on our mental health is crucial to help mitigate the risk of mental and physical illness.
Our research suggests there are numerous psychological approaches people should experiment with to determine what works for them.”
Unsurprisingly, psychological therapies are also effective at improving well-being, although techniques need to be fitted to people’s requirements.
For people with mental health problems, cognitive-behavioural therapy was effective.
For those who already have good mental health, acceptance and commitment therapy works well.
Stick at it
All psychological techniques require that people stick at them for a period.
Mr Matthew Iasiello, study co-author, said:
“Just trying something once or twice isn’t enough to have a measurable impact.
Regardless of what method people are trying out, they need to stick at it for weeks and months at a time for it to have a real effect.”
While seeking professional help is important, there are many things individuals can do to improve their well-being, said Professor Michael Kyrios, study co-author:
“Implementing such interventions can be done safely for individuals on their own or in a group format, either in person or online.
It is therefore potentially a cost-effective addition to current referral pathways and treatment methods.”
The study was published in the journal Nature Human Behaviour (Agteren et al., 2021).