Around the world, governments have imposed multiple restrictions to help curb the spread of a highly contagious virus. A lot of emphasis has been put on staying safe, being healthy and focussing on well-being. But before we get into strategies to improve your well-being, let’s answer an important question:
What does well-being mean?
A lot of us might confuse well-being with happiness. While the two concepts are similar, well-being goes beyond happiness: it is an overall positive state that includes physical, emotional, social, financial, environmental and even spiritual aspects. This is why well-being is considered to be so important.
With all that’s going on, each one of us is dealing with a mixed bag of emotions – including stress, anxiety, anger and even boredom. Although we’ve all been in this situation for a few months now, it doesn’t necessarily mean that things are getting any easier. Each day comes with its own set of challenges, but ensuring that you’re looking after your overall well-being is what will help you overcome them. If you have already been prioritising your well-being all this while, pat yourself on the back! But if making time for yourself is something you struggle with – don’t worry. Here are some simple strategies you can engage in to make your well-being a priority.
For physical well-being: Eat balanced meals and make time for exercise
Make sure your body stays nourished. A balanced meal, as we learned in school, includes some form of carbohydrates (found in rice, wheat, pasta, potatoes, etc.), protein (legumes, vegetables, chicken, fish, eggs), fats (found in the oil, butter, nuts, meat, etc.), and vitamins and minerals (found in milk and fresh fruits and vegetables).
Although restrictions are easing off in some places, you might still struggle to source some of these food items – that is alright. Try to ensure that your meals are balanced, as far as possible. Make sure you have at least 3 meals a day.
The WHO has announced that working out for just 30 minutes a day can help you stay fit and boost your immunity. Try doing indoor exercises such as skipping, dancing, yoga, and aerobics for 30 minutes every day. If you’re allowed to step outside, try and go for a walk or jog around your neighbourhood. Keep in mind that even day-to-day activities such as washing vessels, rearranging furniture, dusting your house or sweeping the floors can turn into a workout.
For mental well-being: Try mindfulness or journaling
Sometimes, your mind needs a break from the chaos of social media, news, work, and life in general. Mindfulness is a great way to help you find inner peace. It is a skill that takes time to develop, but with a bit of practice, you can do it!
Here’s a simple mindfulness exercise for you to try: pick an everyday activity, such as brushing your teeth or taking a bath, and while you engage in it, notice what you can see, feel, hear, smell, and taste. Doing this even for 2 minutes can help you feel more mindful.
If this does not seem to be of your interest, you can try journaling. Writing about your day, your emotions or even about your dreams can help you feel more positive. Studies have found that writing in a journal improves sleep, keeps negative thoughts at bay, and strengthens your immune system. Write in your journal for 20 minutes at the end of each day.
For financial well-being: Examine your finances
The health crisis has given rise to major economic changes. This can trigger a lot of stress – especially if you have just graduated from college, or are in between jobs. At this time, it’s crucial to take a proactive approach to your finances. Financial wellness is crucial for a healthy and happy life.
At the end of each week, make a conscious effort to spend some time going through your finances. Study your past expenses, check on your existing savings or investments, identify any big upcoming expenses and decide on a savings goal that you will work on.
You can also use this time to cancel any recurring, unnecessary subscriptions, automate recurring bill payments, study about investments, or take a budgeting or financial literacy class. You could even ask a friend, relative, or financial advisor to help you out.
For social well-being: Make virtual plans with loved ones
Studies show that the biggest predictor of happiness in life is the quality of our relationships. Usually, this is good news because human beings are social animals. However, with the need to practise social distancing, maintaining relationships can be hard – especially if you live far away from your loved ones.
Make a list of friends and relatives you enjoy spending time with. Call them or send them a message and arrange a virtual meeting with them via video call. If you live close by, you can even make a plan to do something together – keeping safety guidelines in mind. If you live with your family or roommates, set up a games night with them or try to spend time talking to each other.
To boost your social well-being, you could also try performing a random act of kindness towards another person. You could donate to charity, buy something from a small business that may be struggling, pay your employees more, or do your roommate’s chores.
For environmental well-being: Appreciate nature
Spending time in nature has been found to have many benefits for your health, mental peace and immunity.
Get in touch with nature by going for a nature walk, basking in the morning sun, setting up a kitchen garden, or doing something for the environment. You could even take up a sustainability pledge such as using less plastic, going zero waste, or eating vegan food twice a week. You can begin doing this now and continue it even after things settle down.
For spiritual well-being: Have faith
If you aren’t a religious or spiritual person, feel free to skip this section entirely. If you are religious, use this time to focus on your faith. Pray, read scriptures and sing hymns. Remember that the virus is affecting everyone irrespective of their faith, so if possible pray for others as well.
If you are spiritual, use this time to meditate, introspect, and focus more on your spiritual journey. You may even find a mentor or spiritual leader.
Even though the world seems like a scary place right now, remember that this is not permanent and that things will get better. Focus on your well-being and make small changes in your everyday life to attain it. It’s important to make self-care and well-being a habit. You can pick any one area to improve your well-being in, or you can even pick a small goal to work on in each of these areas to help yourself.