Well-Being//

6 Elements of Well-being to Keep In Mind Right Now

In challenging times, taking a holistic approach to our stress and mental health is key.

Halfpoint/ Shutterstock
Halfpoint/ Shutterstock

So I’ve been reading and posting a lot about finding your passion and purpose. Though I think this is obviously critical, once we find what we are passionate about, we have to address the larger issue and that is the one of total “well-being.”

Without a full sense of well being, having a passion still won’t make one feel complete and honestly, that alone without the full rounding out of BEING well, is pretty one dimensional. Is that what you want? No. Of course not…so…

As addressed in one of my past posts, in his book Well-being: the Five Essential Elements, Tom Rath addresses Career Well Being, Social Well Being, Financial Well Being, Physical Well Being, and Community well being. On top of those five essential elements, I add in Spiritual Well Being. 

So, a quick glance at addressing these in a holistic fashion with one major caveat…these are just suggestions and things I’m trying to implement in my life. I will make every effort not to say the words “you should do” X, Y, or Z as that phrase “you should” applies unnecessary pressure and implies that I’m guaranteeing positive results. I’m not! These are merely suggestions. So, here we go:

Career Wellbeing:

First and foremost, find something that pays the bills but only until you can find something that you love, that you’re good at, serves your “why” or purpose and that pays the bills too!!! Don’t get trapped in anything that won’t let you keep that search going. Find something where you can enjoy the weekdays as much as the weekends!

Work an honest day’s work but don’t be a martyr. I’ve seen and heard too many people talking about working 12 hours or more a day, but when it comes down to it, they only get 5 or 6 hours of REAL work. The rest of the time is spent socializing, complaining, surfing the web, and waiting for the next task to pop up in an email inbox. If able, put in your time and when you’ve gotten through a true honest days work, get out and do something else. It’ll make the time you are at work more efficient and effective. I’m not saying you shouldn’t socialize at work but don’t let it consume the work day and make the 40 hour work week into a 60 hour work week with only 30 hours of real work being done! 

If you’re not doing what you love, what inspires you, what you feel you’re good at – keep searching. Use that extra time you’re saving by not wasting time at the office or on shift when you don’t have to be. Find that magic job…and understand this job may change over time as you change and your specific situation changes. 

Social Wellbeing:

So I just finished saying to cut down on socializing in the work place. I do feel there is a certain amount of social interaction that’s beneficial AT work but one can quickly cross that point and start heading towards diminishing returns. Be social but not wasteful with your and with other’s time.

Make an effort to go to work social gatherings occasionally. Let me tell you, these are difficult for me as I’m a very introverted person. However, I normally walk away from the social get togethers feeling a little more recharged. Do I go to every one? No! Do I recommend it. Also no…find your balance but make an attempt to connect with those with whom you work on a periodic basis to keep charged and to keep things a little more enjoyable at work. 

Make an effort to reconnect with GOOD old friends. Even if that is just an email every so often. I stress GOOD here as trying to reestablish contact with old ACQUAINTANCES is exhausting and dilutes the friendships you may have or may be attempting to reestablish. Once you DO reestablish contact with those GOOD friends, make an effort to stay in touch – even if that means putting a reminder on the calendar. 

Healthy relationships (identify unhealthy relationships early and don’t force them). If you’re close with your family, don’t rely on social media to connect with them. Call them, email them, text them – heck, if you’re able – here’s a wild idea: spend time WITH them in person!! Obviously that’s harder to do as we all get further spread out. Maybe that’s something you’ll want to consider when looking at where it is you want to work. 

That last part for family applies to friends too. How many “friends” do you have on Social Media? How many of those people, if you took a step back – would you consider actual friends and not just acquaintances? Figure out who those people are and touch base with them or hang out with them on occasion if possible. 

Connect and reconnect socially but not via social media! The connection will be stronger and more meaningful both to you and to whomever you’ve just connected! Bottom line, Be the friend you’d like to have as a friend – or the family member you’d like to have as a brother, sister, mom, dad, cousin or whatever. stay in touch and always be there for the other not because it’ll be paid back but because it’s what being a good friend or family member is all about. Getting your well being is a side benefit!

Financial Wellbeing:

This element is NOT about how to make a fortune but rather about living within your means and managing your financial assets correctly. Now, I’m not a financial guru, and that’s not what this post is about so I won’t tell you how to manage your portfolio, but, I CAN tell you MANAGING your finances regularly without it becoming a separate job is key to one’s mind set. Knowing what’s coming in and going out – what’s being moved where and why – it’s good to at least have a surface level understanding. Not just for your wallet but also for your personal well being. Stay within your means – know where your money is going – those are my two big pieces of financial advice. If people would just practice those two alone, we would ALL be better off financially!

Physical Well-being:

Top to bottom care from your hair down to your toe nails – Take care of yourself outside and in – as often as possible 

Eat well – but keep it balanced and fun and supplement with natural vitamins and minerals – do your research and find what makes you feel best. 

Exercise – for short term benefit as it makes you feel better. Long term it makes you look better. Longer term it makes you healthier and live longer. Quite frankly, people who exercise regularly are shown to be more productive, more friendly, and according to the National Health Service in the UK, it’s medically proven that people who do regular physical activity have up to a 35% lower risk of coronary heart disease and stroke, up to a 50% lower risk of type 2 diabetes, up to a 50% lower risk of colon cancer, up to a 20% lower risk of breast cancer, a 30% lower risk of early death, up to an 83% lower risk of osteoarthritis and up to a 30% lower risk of depression. 

Here also, if you can find some way to incorporate exercise into something about which you’re passionate, even better!  

Sleep…same as exercise…it’s good for you! Get the recommended 8-9 hours a night of possible! You’ll be glad you did!

Manage stress – we can’t get rid of stress and we wouldn’t want to, but we need to manage it. Breathe!! Get some perspective. Does this thing you’re stressing over really matter in the grand scheme of things? Work to turn as many stressors around as possible. This could be something like waking up a half hour earlier to allow you to get a better breakfast and to allow for traffic on the way to work so you’re not feeling rushed – speaking of traffic, maybe you can use being stuck in traffic to listen to calming music or audio books making the most of that time. 

Share chores at home. A great stress relieving tool we recently started using is having partially prepped recipes along with required ingredients for meals delivered to the door periodically. Yes this is slightly more expensive with emphasis on “slightly” but with both husband and wife working, this takes stress of going to grocery store and the stress of thinking about what we are going to cook out of our lives and simultaneously is teaching us to cook MUCH better meals than I’d have ever dreamt up!   

Another tip, take vacations – sure – that’s obvious! But, here’s one that I’ve learned along the way – Give yourself at LEAST a day buffer between vacation and returning to work. Trust me…you’ll be thankful about this too!  

Take time to just be quiet…meditate and look inside yourself. Get to know what it is you need on a personal level to feel less chaos in your life – and work to make those changes. 

If meditation isn’t for you, Find an activity that makes you think about NOTHING ELSE. It forces you to live in the moment – to be mindful. Not dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. Do this as often as you feel you need it. Something where nothing else can be thought of except that particular moment. Balancing on a surfboard. Yoga. Running down a rocky hill so you have to be very aware of each step and you can’t zone out.  

Ok…All that said, I have to say, and this may sound crazy – but, not all stress is bad. Stress can prepare you for other situations. It can make you stronger and better for when stress inevitably will come your way. 

Some other physical well being changes:

Identify positive habits and cultivate them – example – eating well or exercising. Identify bad habits and work to stop them. If you fall off the bandwagon, don’t beat yourself up too badly…get right back on and start again!

As often as possible do what I’ve termed positively stimulate the senses. For example:

• Smell…walk into a bakery or a candle store or put your favorite scents in your house. There is something to be said for aroma therapy. 

• Touch…hugs, loving on your pets, getting a massage, giving a massage, and you can imagine other ways I’m sure. That’s not for this post!!

• Taste…eating a delicious food while remembering to keep things balanced. There are plenty of delicious foods that are not terrible for you. Keep it balanced!  

• Vision…there is so much beauty out there. Maybe if you’re an early riser, start your day with a sunrise … If not, maybe a sunset. If neither of those are possible, there’s plenty to see between both of those – on either side – in daylight or night. We just need to look for it!

• Hearing…much like vision, there are so many beautiful sounds out there from your favorite piece of music to birds chirping to the distant whistle of a train

It’s truly my belief if one can positively stimulate the five senses more frequently, our physical well being would improve. 

Community Wellbeing:

What do you do within your community? What can you do to make it better? How can I help? Though this is altruistic at the surface, and many others besides yourself WILL benefit, there will be personal benefit too. You will feel a sense of contributing to the greater good. A deeper feeling than just getting by and making a living. Find a group to be a part of – start small with something like a church group or volunteering with youth. See how your local city government could use volunteers. Whatever it is, make an effort to contribute – you will reap benefits you will never expect. 

Spiritual Wellbeing:

Ok, on top of those five elements, I add in Spiritual Wellbeing. Rath says this is intertwined with the other five, and while I agree – I also feel it’s a strong enough element to address separately. How can one improve spiritual well being? This will be different for everyone based on personal beliefs but whatever you believe, this is still an element that can be worked on in your life. Pray, worship, meditate – or do whatever is applicable to connect to whatever higher being in which you believe or just to feel more connected to the greater universe and to feel more grounded. I, personally, am Christian. Praying throughout the day and reading my Bible help me to focus on the larger picture. To gain perspective on what’s truly important. They help me to be better to my fellow man, to trust in God, and to not sweat the small stuff. I feel communicating with God brings with it blessings for myself, my friends, my family and for whomever else I’m praying. It centers me. If you’re Christian, I encourage you to pray and pray often. If you’re not, I encourage you to connect in whatever way you feel to whatever or whomever it is in which you believe. I also feel sharing what you believe is an important aspect to spiritual wellbeing – not in an offensive or pushy way but in a way that is truly out of the goodness of your heart.  

Summary:

So, the five elements of wellbeing – career, financial, physical, social, community…with a sixth element thrown on top – Spiritual. Work on those…in doing so, you’re working on yourself and improving the lives of those around you. Share this and help to make the lives of those you know even better!

Originally published on LinkedIn.com

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