W is for Well-being
“Wellness is the complete integration of body, mind and spirit. The realisation that everything we do, think, feel and believe has an effect on our well-being” Greg Anderson
Well-being is generally defined as the state of being comfortable, healthy and happy/content. It is about the things that are intrinsically important to you, being ‘comfortable in your own skin’ and feeling that you have a good quality of life.
Well-being is often divided into different types including Physical, Social, Emotional, Psychological, Spiritual, Economic, Life/Job specific satisfaction...
A sense of well-being integrates the whole person. It is about nurturing our mental, emotional, spiritual and physical parts and incorporating our values.
Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes (TLC’s – The same initialism as Tender Loving Care)
can help enhance our sense of well-being by reducing the impact of negative factors in our lives.
Our circumstances and choices affect our sense of well-being. We can’t always control our circumstances, but we can learn to control our attitude and we can often have some control with regards to the choices that we make. Quite simply, if we consistently make poor choices, we develop unhelpful habits that are likely to lead to a poor sense of well-being, whereas if we consistently make healthy choices and intentionally put in place helpful habits then we are likely to experience a greater sense of energy, mental clarity and have a more positive view of ourselves, our lives, others and the world in which we live.
TLCs work positively in our lives in three specific ways:
TLC’s help increase our sense of energy, well-being and our overall performances
TLC’s decrease our risk of future-related problems and instil in us a sense of hope for the future.
"He who has health has hope and he who has hope has everything." Arabian Proverb
So how can we practically improve our sense of well-being?
“Physical fitness is not only one of the most important keys to a healthy body, it is the basis of dynamic and creative intellectual activity.” J F Kennedy
Exercise not only changes your body, it changes your mind, your attitude and your mood. Research suggests that when we improve our physical health through increased physical activity of any kind, it can not only improve our mental health and reduce depression symptoms but by engaging in regular physical activity it has also been shown to reduce the risk of developing depression in children and adults.
Activities could include: Aerobics, Badminton, Cycling, Dancing, Equestrian sports, Football, Golf, Handball, Ice skating, Judo, Karate, Long-distance running, Mountaineering, Orienteering, Pilates, Quadriathlon, Running, Swimming, Tai Chi, Unicycling, Volleyball, Walking, Xare ,Yachting, Zorb Football ….though there are obviously others for each letter
“No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main” John Donne
It is important to spend time developing and nurturing relationships with others – friends, family, neighbours, colleagues not only for ourselves but for others.
“Being kind and generous leads you to perceive others more positively and more charitably” and this “fosters a heightened sense of interdependence and cooperation in your social community.” Sonia Lyubomirsky (The How of Happiness)
The most important connection we have is with ourselves, so it is crucial to spend time being still and quiet so we can listen to our inner voice (intuition). When we live and engage authentically with others, it develops strong social connections that can help us to navigate difficult, challenging or stressful situations and solve any problems or overcome challenges that we face through an enlarged (collective) perspective.
"Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body." Joseph Addison
When we learn new skills it increases our confidence and sense of achievement. As we add knowledge and skills ( tools in our toolkit) it enlarges our perspective on life and increases the opportunities that we have.
Give to Others
Giving is good for our health; it has been shown to improve physical health and longevity, perhaps, researchers suggest, because it helps decrease stress, which is associated with a variety of health problems.
A 2006 study by Rachel Piferi and Kathleen Lawler showed that people who provided social support to others had lower blood pressure than participants who didn’t, suggesting a direct physiological benefit to those who give of themselves. By giving to others, even just a smile or simple word of encouragement, it can not only improve our physical health but improve our emotional health too. Giving has been linked to the release of oxytocin, a hormone that induces feelings of warmth, euphoria and connection to others.
“Each one of us is like that butterfly, the Butterfly Effect. And each tiny move toward a more positive mindset can send ripples of positivity through our organisations, our families and our communities.” Shawn Achor (The Happiness Advantage)
Giving doesn’t just stop with ourselves though, it can produce the butterfly effect, encouraging others to ‘pay it forward’ and be generous too thereby improving the world that we live in.
When we give to one another, these positive social interactions promote a sense of trust and cooperation that strengthens our ties to each other and which research has shown is central to good mental and physical health.
“The more extensive the reciprocal altruism born of social connection . . . the greater the advance toward health, wealth, and happiness.” John Cacioppo (Loneliness: Human Nature and the Need for Social Connection,)
“When you express your gratitude in words or actions, you not only boost your own positivity but [other people’s] as well,” ….. “And in the process you reinforce their kindness and strengthen your bond to one another.” Barbara Fredrickson
Know your values and have a sense of Purpose
“When you go through life guided by your values, not only do you gain a sense of vitality and joyfulness, but you also experience that life can be rich, full, and meaningful, even when bad things happen”. Russ Harris
Knowing our values and having a sense of purpose can help us navigate the decisions we have to make in life, influences our behaviour, helps to determine our goals, giving us a sense of direction and creating meaning to our lives. Values and purpose are unique to the individual. For some people, purpose is connected an enjoyable and fulfilling career whilst for others their sense of purpose is tied into their family or neighbourhood responsibilities and the relationships that they have with others.
Similarly, well-being is a personal experience. What one person considers to be their optimal existence is likely to differ to another persons because we all have different perspectives based on differing values and ways of measuring our sense of satisfaction with life and our own sense of well-being.
Look after your Physical Health
"A healthy outside starts from the inside." Robert Urich
Everything that we put into our bodies i.e. the food we eat and the things we drink, or on to our bodies i.e. perfumes, toiletries etc is going to have an effect on our physical health. If we want to have a healthy body, we need to nurture ourselves and give it the nutrients it needs by eating and drinking healthily and moving sufficiently.
Look after your Mental Health
Everything that we feed our minds is going to have an effect on our state of mind i,e. The things we watch, the things we read, the people we spend our time with.
Our health and our health-related behaviour and lifestyle choices are considered a key indicator of well-being.
Every aspect that contributes to our sense of well-being or lack of it has many different facets and interpretations and are subjective but there is a common thread that runs throughout; well-being is about having an appropriate balance within and integrating all aspects of our lives and redirecting our focus and attention towards the positive and helpful.
“You need to do more than just eat nourishing food, exercise and rest to feel your best. You also need to be around good people, spend time healing your emotional history, live in alignment with your values, say no to people pleasing, stay open to growth and deeply embrace change.” Yung Pueblo
We affect our well-being by what we do or don’t do. Our values can strengthen our motivation and act as a compass to help us direct our choices towards things that will support our own well-being and help to improve the community in which we live.