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.