We often talk about wellbeing, but what does the term really mean? Far from being just another buzzword, our wellbeing is fundamental to our overall health.
The Oxford English Dictionary defines wellbeing as “the state of being comfortable, healthy, or happy.” It is logical that we feel content when we’re doing something we enjoy – drinks with friends, days out with the kids, time spent with family - but as the Mental Health Foundation explains in this article wellbeing goes beyond day-to-day feelings of happiness.
Our sense of wellbeing can be affected by how in control we feel of aspects of our life and how optimistic we feel about the future, for example. The ‘big picture’ can change during our lives as our careers develop, relationships alter and priorities shift, but the foundations of good mental health and wellbeing remain largely the same.
There is evidence that points to there being five keys to wellbeing. You can read more about this on the NHS website but to summarise:
· Connecting with others – good relationships can provide emotional support, build self-worth, and allow us to share positive experiences
· Being active – moving more is great for both physical and mental health; it’s a brilliant mood booster
· Learning new skills – trying something new creates a sense of purpose and builds our confidence
· Giving to others – helping a neighbour or volunteering in the community can enable us to connect with people and build self-esteem
· Mindfulness – if buzzwords put you off, think of this as simply ‘paying attention to the moment’; it can really help us to appreciate what we have and quieten a busy mind.
If it’s this simple to improve our wellbeing, why aren’t we all doing it?
When we write about wellbeing on social media we often use the hashtag #SelfCareIsntSelfish. We do this deliberately. From our own experiences and from speaking to visitors to Green Farm we know it is common to feel guilty about making time for yourself.
Juggling work and home life, parenting pressures or caring responsibilities means free time is scarce. Rest and relaxation become luxuries, rather than essential to achieving a balance. This means some of us only focus on our wellbeing we become unwell.
What can we do today that will make a difference tomorrow?
Wellbeing is very individual and we’re all coming at it from different angles. You might sleep badly but eat well. Maybe you’re great at making time for exercise but never sit down to relax. Perhaps you have recently moved to a new house and are feeling a bit lonely and disconnected.
In search of inspiration, we asked some members of the Green Farm team how they approach wellbeing and if they had any tips.
Yoga teacher Caelia Butcher is a huge advocate for the ancient form of exercise but also for nature. She often combines the two, taking her classes outside. She said: “Our separation from the elements and nature can add to feelings of stress and overwhelm. Practicing yoga and meditation outside enhances your practice and the natural magic of the beautiful surroundings adds to the experience.”
For our Kitchen Garden Manager, Rachel Clark, the land may be a cause of occasional stress but it’s also the solution. She told us she tries to take a mindful approach to being outdoors: “Like any job, being a professional gardener has its challenges and I can often get a bit anxious, especially this time of year when we are all at the mercy of the irregular weather patterns.”
“I make sure I stop and focus on the amazing and often tiny details – bird song or studying how the petals of a flower are arranged. I feel this is something we should all try every day.”
Alice Yeates, our in-house nutritionist, believes what we eat and drink has a marked effect on our wellbeing. Her top tip is to make sure we’re well hydrated. She said: “The effects of increasing our fluids can be seen quite quickly. Initially you may end up visiting the loo more often, but you will soon find you sleep better and have more energy.”
Over to you
What does wellbeing mean to you? Are the five keys to wellbeing present in your life at the moment? What small changes could you make to improve your wellbeing?
Self-care isn’t about grand gestures or setting unachievable goals; the last year has been hard enough without us putting extra pressure on ourselves. As the tips from our team show, simple things such as listening to our bodies, focusing on - and enjoying - the moment, and spending time outdoors can all make a difference.
From yoga classes and spa treatments to weekend-long retreats we can assist you to take time out and prioritise your needs. A visit to Green Farm could be a pick-me-up, or the start of more significant lifestyle changes. Let us know if we can help.