Do you take your wellbeing seriously?

15/8/2013 |

Some great advice from the blog of South East ninja Wendy Smith

We can all agree that our lifestyles are so much busier than ever before and our overall ‘Wellbeing’ is so important to how we feel about ourselves but also how we perform in our jobs.

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Do you ever get that niggling little voice in the back of your mind reminding you to do something like ‘You’re working too hard’, ‘You haven’t gone to the gym in ages’ or ‘You need to spend more time with the family’. More often than not we push it to the back of our minds and try to forget it. This is our subconscious mind trying to warn us that the balance isn’t right.  Personally I’m unbelievably passionate about the subject of wellbeing, especially at work. I learnt the hard way at the end of last year and burnt myself out which resulted in me needing to take some time out and re evaluate my priorities. This is where I realised the balance in my world was completely off and the only way that I was going to feel content was to regain control of things – a valuable lesson I will never forget.

So what do we do about this very real challenge we all face? Our busy lifestyles aren’t going away any time soon, so it would be useful to be able to understand how to tap into the key things that really matter to our overall ‘Wellbeing’. Also to understand some little changes that we can make to get the balance right, sometimes by heightening your awareness can be the most powerful step in getting this right for you…

So first of all what are the key elements to our well being?

Career Wellbeing 
Do you like what you do each day? This sounds like the most basic question however it is the most important question to ask ourselves. Only 20% of people can give a positive ‘yes’ in response. we spend the majority of our time doing something we consider as a career or job. When you first meet someone they normally will ask you “What do you do? “If your answer is something you find very fulfilling you are likely to be thriving in your Career Wellbeing.

Social Wellbeing
When you look at some of your most cherished memories or memorable events it normally involves other people that shared these with you. However we often underestimate how the impact of our closest relationships and social connections. When you see a friend or colleague who is happy this can often impact on lifting your mood. Or if you have a frustrating interaction then this in turn can impact on your mood and spread around to others you contact. Did you know that every 3 hours of good social time reduces the chances of having a bad day to 10% so try to gain at least 3 hours of social time a day.

Financial Wellbeing
Do you need money to be happier? Many books and articles assert that money is not that important. They normally mention that people who win the lottery are not much happier several years later. Studies show that it’s not necessarily the amount of money that we earn that heightens wellbeing but the ‘how’ we spend it that does. For example buying experiences like going out for dinner or going on holiday increases your wellbeing and the wellbeing of others. Experiences last while material purchases fade. Spending your money on meaningful experiences means that you get to look forward to the event, enjoy the experiences itself and hopefully have long lasting memories to think back on.

Physical Wellbeing
There are hundreds of moments every week when we make these seemingly small but eventually important decisions, I’m not saying for one second to give up everything that’s bad for you and live like a saint, however when we make a positive choice e.g ordering a salad for lunch, it can improve our mood for the rest of the day and in the long term for your health. When we do make a negative choice like ordering a burger and chips, it can decrease our energy for the rest of the day and over the years raise our cholesterol levels. Research shows that a single meal that is high in the bad fats (saturated) reduces our arteries ability to carry enough blood to our bodies and brains, this has been referred to as the “high fat hangover” which can also slow us down and impair our thinking. Throughout the day we make small choices whether we decide to go to the gym before work or not or to snack on that pain au chocolat for breakfast. We make decisions every day about how we live our lives without a thought of what the long term effects may be,  take a look at things that are within your power to enhance your physical wellbeing.

Community Wellbeing
This can be seen as pretty unimportant to most people, but let me show you where this can really come into play. Is it important that you feel safe in your neighbourhood? Would it surprise you that 1 in 3 people don’t feel safe in walking home where they live? One level up from your security is the feeling of contentment about where you live i.e. village, town, busy area, quiet area, open space. These things can all help you to have a thriving community wellbeing. The other side of the community wellbeing is exactly that; the feeling of a good network, group that connects you to the wider community. It is more common now that people will keep themselves quite isolated which therefore means that your community wellbeing will never grow that much. I experienced this personally a few weeks ago when I was talking to one of my neighbours and she expressed how the community used to be a lot more social and that she really missed that side of things, so we are now organising a group BBQ in a couple of weeks as it really struck a chord with me (fingers crossed the weather holds out).

This is just a snap shot of the 5 Wellbeing Elements that may have resinated with some of you to explore further. Here are some ways to do that:

How do I know where I am happy and where the balance might be wrong?
The first thing I would ask you to do is be honest with yourself as deep down you know the answer to this question. The reality is that over 75% of the population put work before family and physical health which is pure madness and if you’re in that cycle then I would advise you to stop that now!
If you do need a bit of help to get a deeper understanding of where you are on the scale, I can recommend to you a great tool to clarify things – Well Being The Five Essential Elements’ by Tom Rath as it’s a very honest and easy read that is focused on you understanding what is important to you to be happy.

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