Wellbeing is a term being increasingly used, through conversations, marketing and in information gathering. But do we know what it means? Do we know what it looks like, what it feels like, what it is?
Wellbeing is defined as “a positive condition of existence, or a state of being comfortable, happy or healthy”.
It looks quite straightforward in print, but when we conceptualise and contextualise wellbeing in our own lives, that’s where it becomes not so simple. We all have our own personal definition of healthy and happy – and then we also feel the pressure to compete with society’s view of healthy and happy.
For example, my personal definition of health is probably a lot different from other people’s, especially within the fitness industry. For me, health is a lot more than just the physical side of things, and my physical health is a lot more than having a “good body”.
It’s about being able to breathe, to be able to move. To have functionality, mobility and be able to do all the things I want to do.
My own personal definition/concept of wellbeing is derived from three key areas. The six dimensions of wellness, Māori health model (Te Whare Tapa Whā) and my own personal life experiences, values and belief systems.
The six dimensions of wellness integrates spiritual, emotional and physical health. Te Whare Tapa Whā is a belief system based around the wharenui with its strong foundations and four equal sides. Should one of the four dimensions be damaged, a person can become unbalanced compromising the whole structural integrity – our wellbeing.
From this, I have focused on what I believe is important when it comes to wellbeing – what we really need to focus on, think about and work for daily. There are five key concepts I believe contribute to our overall wellbeing. These are physical, emotional, spiritual, social and environmental health.
At the beginning of each month I sit down and analyse where I’m currently at under each concept. Are they balanced and am I achieving wellbeing?
So how do you figure out what these five key concepts mean to you?
Physical health is so hard to achieve because of how it is portrayed. We’re told that unless we have a low body fat percentage, big muscles and a banging body, we’re not healthy. But physical health looks different to everyone and is defined by you. Think about what it means to you, do you want to be fit? Strong? Flexible? Mobile? Think about what you want to be able to achieve with your body and how you want to feel – that right there is your physical health definition
We’ve become out of touch with our own emotions. Feeling and expressing emotion is normal. Emotional health means being in touch with your emotional presence; knowing it’s okay to be happy, sad, angry etc. It’s being in touch your emotional state is, understanding it and knowing what to do when your emotions to get the better of you, while also being aware of those around you and being sensitive to their emotional needs.
Spiritual health isn’t just based on spirituality, faith or religion. Spiritual health is about your soul; what feeds your soul, what gives you drive, and adds purpose and meaning to life. Your spirit is what gets you out of bed in the morning, what influences your values, morals and characteristics, and what makes your life meaningful. It’s about having a life that you enjoy, a life that makes you happy and a life that you are living to the fullest.
Social health is vital. It is the relationships we build, the people we surround ourselves with and how we interact, communicate and relate to people. We all have different social needs; whether we’re introverted, extroverted or anywhere in between. It’s knowing the type of social interaction that you need and that is healthy for you, that brings positivity to your life and intellectually compels you. Sometimes we need to be alone, other times we need to be surrounded by people. It’s about working out that balance, knowing your personality and knowing it’s okay to say no when you need time alone.
For me, environmental health is the world around us. It’s where we live, work, socialise and play. Having a healthy living and work environment is crucial. We need to feel safe, secure and happy in our environment. Having a roof over your head and a job is something that is important for our wellbeing, something that not everyone has the luxury of. But we also need to ensure it’s healthy – if that home or workplace is toxic, then it’s going to affect all areas of your wellbeing and you need to get out.
Being in tune with these five areas of health will help you on your journey to wellbeing. Life should be fun. We all want to be happy and live life to the fullest. So sit down, have a think about these key areas and identify where you can make a positive change that is going to create balance, increase happiness and contribute to wellbeing and that full quality of life.