What is Wellbeing?
Updated: Aug 15
In today's fast-paced, overwhelming world, many individuals are in pursuits of 'wellbeing'*, but what actually is it? How do you know when you are ‘being well’ enough? How can you measure it? And is it really that important? As a nutritional therapist and health coach, I have had the privilege of guiding people on their journey towards holistic wellbeing. In this blog, I will explore what it means to be well and uncover the essence of true wellbeing.
First things first, how do we define wellbeing. The true definition, while a little vague, is not simply “not having a diagnosed disease”. According to the Collins Dictionary, your wellbeing is your “health and happiness”, and the Macmillian Dictionary goes one further with the suggestion that it is the “satisfactory state that someone or something should be in, that involves such things as being happy, healthy, and safe, and having enough money.”
The business of wellbeing is multifactorial. It is not just what you eat or how you move that helps you be well. It is a more complicated picture of also having good mental health, a high level of satisfaction with your life, a sense of meaning or purpose, and the ability to manage your stress levels. For me, and the work I do through my signature method with clients, wellbeing is a state of complete physical, mental, and emotional health and harmony. True wellbeing is not a destination but a continuous journey, embracing each moment with mindfulness and self-compassion.
Let's break it down:
For the alphas amongst you (the high achievers- and I'm one so I can totally relate) unfortunately you cannot get this overall sense of wellness by nailing a couple of these elements and hoping your achievements in one area can pick up the slack in other areas where you might be lacking. While it is not necessary to feel that every single one of the elements below is A-OK, you cannot enjoy an overall sense of wellness without having some kind of balance in these key elements:
1.) Physical Wellbeing
Physical wellbeing is the foundation of overall health. It involves nourishing the body with the right nutrients, engaging in regular physical activity, and prioritising adequate rest and sleep. As a nutritional therapist, I emphasise the importance of balanced and wholesome meals, which nourish the body and support its natural functions.
2.) Mental and Emotional Wellbeing
A healthy mind is equally as essential as a healthy body. Mental and emotional wellbeing involves managing stress, cultivating positive thoughts, and fostering emotional resilience. Mindfulness practices, such as meditation and deep breathing exercises, can significantly contribute to mental clarity and emotional stability. Mental and emotional wellbeing involves your ability to deal with everyday life but also how you think and feel about yourself.
3.) Social Wellbeing
Humans are inherently social beings, and meaningful connections with others are vital to our wellbeing. Building strong relationships, maintaining a support system, and nurturing social interactions are crucial for our mental and emotional health. As a health coach, I encourage clients to cultivate healthy relationships and engage in community activities. Social wellbeing is the extent to which you feel you belong. Rolled into this are your relationships with others, and your values, beliefs and traditions.
4.) Spiritual Wellbeing
Spiritual wellbeing goes beyond religious beliefs. It refers to finding a sense of purpose and meaning in life. Engaging in practices that align with our values and beliefs, such as spending time in nature, practicing gratitude, or participating in creative pursuits, can enhance spiritual wellbeing. One of the core pillars of my signature method revolves around cultivating deeper connections: to our inner self, to nature or even a higher power.
5.) Financial Wellbeing
Financial wellbeing refers to the state of a person's overall financial health and security. It goes beyond just having a certain amount of money or material possessions. Instead, financial wellbeing is achieved when an individual can effectively manage their financial resources, feel confident in their financial decisions, and experience a sense of financial security and freedom.
6.) Intellectual Wellbeing
Intellectual wellbeing, also known as cognitive wellbeing or mental wellbeing, refers to the state of having a healthy and active mind, being intellectually stimulated, and continuously engaging in activities that promote mental growth and learning.
The Interconnectedness of Wellbeing
Understanding the interconnectedness of these dimensions is essential for achieving true wellbeing. Neglecting one aspect can create imbalances that impact other areas of life. For example, chronic stress created by poor financial wellbeing can affect physical health, emotional stability, and strain relationships.
Now I'm not saying I'm going to be able to support you with all aspects of your wellbeing (I'm certainly no financial whizz!)- that's why I have a network or reliable and likeminded professionals that I work with and refer to so I can ensure my clients get holistic support. Together we can identify where aspects of your wellbeing may need some extra TLC, and if it is not within my realm of nutrition and lifestyle, we can call upon one of my trusted colleagues to help you achieve your goals.
How can you measure how well you are doing?
The experience of ‘wellness’ is very subjective. It is not for others to tell you how well (or otherwise) you are doing at your own wellbeing. When I’m working with my clients, one of the tools I use is something called the Health Wheel, which offers a 360-degree view of your current health and wellbeing situation.
Each segment in the wheel represents a different area of your life that is important for overall health and wellbeing. Of course, my wheel is skewed towards nutrition and lifestyle, but the effect is pretty much the same. You would score yourself based on how you feel about different areas of your life: health, weight, fitness, energy levels, personal achievements, work/career, sense of purpose, happiness, fun, family life, social life and friendships, and (last but not least) ‘me time’.
Consider each area of your life now and rate on a scale of 1-10 how satisfied you feel in the correct area in your wheel. 10 is high, and 1 is low. You could even draw yourself a Health Wheel if you want to! Then take a look at the big picture to notice where you may need to be putting your energy to support overall wellbeing. Remember these are interconnected and I so often find with my clients that their physical wellbeing is closely tied to their wellbeing in other areas, so when we look to support all areas of wellbeing we can start to alleviate physical symptoms.
It’s completely normal for people to discover they are satisfied with some areas of their lives and very unsatisfied with others. Remember that this is really a helicopter view, allowing you the luxury of evaluating the whole of your life and not piecemeal. Try the exercise and see how you fare. There are a handful of things I always try to be mindful of as I go about my day-to-day life which you may find useful to integrate into your life:
I look for ways to connect; to talk and listen to others, and to live in the moment.
I consider how I can build more activity naturally into my day by walking when there is a realistic option, and moving my body in a way that feels good rather than a chore or a punishment.
I observe and take notice of the simple things that bring joy. Focussing on things I am grateful for makes a big difference to how I experience my life.
I try to be generous with my time, kind words and my presence.
I look to 'add in' extra nutrients wherever I can e.g. an extra portion on veggies, a sprinkling of mixed seeds on my breakfast etc.
Remember, the journey to well-being is a continuous process, and each step taken towards balance and self-care is a step towards a more vibrant and enriched life!
Finally if you want to improve your wellbeing, and are looking for some extra support to really elevate your life, I'd love to support you. I offer a FREE health and wellbeing review call that you can book HERE. It is 20 minutes and there's no obligation, but it gives us an opportunity to look at what is working in your life and what might need some fine tuning.
*The eagle-eyed among you may notice that ‘wellbeing’ is sometimes spelt ‘well-being’. Both versions are correct in UK English, with the hyphenated version tending to be more historically used.