World Wellbeing Week was established to promote overall awareness for the all encompassing aspects of wellbeing. But do you know what it means to be well?
Wellbeing and wellness are words that we see across the internet or in the media, but do we know what they actually mean, and what notice should we take of them? It is recommended that we both eat and sleep well, exercise and maintain mental health in order to be healthy, but ‘wellness’, and being well is slightly more complex.
Areas of wellbeing:
- Emotional or psychological
The Oxford Dictionary defines well being as general health and happiness, both physically and emotionally. It also suggests that to be well, you must have a sense of your wellbeing. Thus, in order to ‘be well’ you must understand what it means, and have a sense of your own mental and physical state.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines health as “complete physical, mental, and social wellbeing – and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” which suggests that being well goes beyond simply not being ‘unwell’. It is more about being healthy in each of the incorporated aspects, beyond the base level.
Each aspect within wellbeing, whether it be being comfortable, healthy and happy, especially when linked to specific areas of wellbeing such as social or financial can be interpreted differently depending on the person – there have been long, complicated debates about what it means to be happy, and being comfortable and healthy are no less complicated concepts. So the short answer is, there is no clear cut answer for what each of the individual parts that make up wellbeing mean, making it difficult to give a clear cut definition for wellbeing.
However, we can surmise that if we take the time to become aware of how we are feeling, both physically and emotionally to give ourselves a sense of our wellbeing, and take steps to be more than just ‘not unwell’ in each of the incorporated areas, then we would get fairly close to our own personal definition of wellbeing.
What we can do for our own wellbeing
Wellbeing is not just a buzzword, being well is what we all should be striving for when we make lifestyle choices – it is ultimately what determines our quality of life.
Have you heard the phrase, ‘healthy body, healthy mind’? Well, it's true. Taking care of your physical body obviously has physical benefits, but it can have knock on impacts on other areas of your health and wellbeing too. By fuelling your body with the right foods, maintaining an active lifestyle where possible, and making sure you have the right environment for sleep, you are setting yourself up for both physical and psychological well being as the two are tightly intertwined.
And taking care of your physical well being is more than just eating well and exercising regularly, it can include things such as ensuring you spend some time in sunlight (with an appropriate SPF of course!), brushing your teeth on a regular basis and wearing comfortable shoes when you go out for a long walk.
Emotional or psychological
Emotional or psychological wellness is a little more complicated, and sometimes is impacted by factors outside our control. So rather than pressure ourselves to be 100% emotionally well all the time, allow ourselves to relax in the knowledge that it is okay not to be okay some of the time.
With that said, there are some things that we can do to give ourselves the best chance of feeling emotionally well. Alongside taking care of your physical body, you can develop the habit of checking in on your emotional state – how are you feeling? Are you lashing out at people? Have you taken some time to relax and unwind recently? Is there something in particular you need to address in order to feel better?
Another positive thing we can do to influence our mental wellbeing is to find effective and healthy ways to cope when we are feeling stressed or emotionally low. Using tools such as meditation, breathing exercises or physical exercise to channel and work through any negative feelings can help you to find calm, or feel accomplished.
What do we mean by social wellness? Well, we are referring to the quality of the relationships we hold and how we interact with those around us. Humans, as social creatures thrive off connections with others. It is these interactions with others that allows our brains to come alive, and can often be where we develop our sense of self confidence or self esteem.
Not only can the relationships with those around us offer us mental stimulation, it is our friends, family and other loved ones that are there to offer us support during tough times and can be a source of solace when we need them.
Just as humans need to be stimulated socially, the same goes for exercising our intellectual potential. Gaining and maintaining intellectual skills and knowledge help us to grow and develop a sense of self. This doesn’t only include academic activities, but can also include all kinds of hobbies, creative pursuits or development of skills.
Opening our minds to new ideas and experiences and setting ourselves new challenges all contribute to maintaining our intellectual wellbeing whilst allowing us to invest in and explore our own talents.
By economic wellness, we mean having financial security and able to be optimistic about the future in an economic sense. This definition will differ from person to person, however personal finances are one of the biggest influences causing people to feel under pressure or stressed leading to wellness concerns.
Whilst it is not always possible to push economic wellness into existence, by exercising certain positive financial practises, you may feel more in control of how you spend your money which can help to relieve the stress surrounding this issue.
Spiritual wellness refers to your personal values, beliefs, and purpose in life. This is the moral compass you live by, the belief that everything will work out in the end, and the momentum that motivates you through life towards the goals you want to achieve.
No matter what it is you believe in, having a clear sense of what you think is right and wrong, and holding yourself to that standard can allow you to feel an inner peace rather than be ladened with personal conflicts – all of which lessen the likelihood of this causing you mental or physical stress leading to health related problems.
Celebrating World Wellbeing Week
Wellbeing and wellness may be difficult to pinpoint, but in the same way that it is ambiguous, it can be interpreted and implemented however you choose. What works for one person may not work for another, so take some time to consider what helps you to relax, what makes you happy, and what you could do to improve your overall well being.