Wellbeing – Fashion Fad or Future-proof Fact? – By Lauren Wolfe
What is wellbeing?
The ‘wellness’ industry seems to be inundated at the moment. There is so much on social media, in the press, as we walk down the street. I think we are in a state of confusion. What should we be eating as there always seems to be a new diet or a new must-eat superfood. What type of exercise should we be doing and how often/how much? What new treatments are out there to make me feel more energetic or look younger?
Wellbeing is more than what you eat and what you do to keep fit. It is also more than just about being ‘happy’. Wellbeing, in my opinion, is about finding your rhythm, what works for you, what you need to do to make you be the best you can be!
The search for wellbeing will be vastly different for everyone. We are all unique. There is no ‘one-size fits all’ and your journey will be different to the next person’s journey and also at any one time, your journey will change direction and look very different.
8 Pillars of Holistic wellbeing
Nutrition is key. What we put into our bodies can very much affect what we get out of them. So often we may feel lethargic or bloated/heavy, we may feel sleepy or low in mood. Often we forget that nutrition can play a vital role in how we feel.
I am not a fan of diets! I think we have lost focus and have become confused with too many options. We are also busy and so fast food is becoming more popular.
Consider how much processed food you are eating and how much sugar is in your diet. Sugar is a big one…we are addicted!Try more whole grains and fresh fruit and veg. Oily fish too is great as it can help against cardiovascular disease, age-related vision loss and dementia. It’s a good source of vitamin D, protein, some B vitamins and selenium. It’s also a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, a type of fat that is good for our health.
Also remember, everything in moderation is a good place to start. I am not trying to kid anyone here as sometimes an ice-cream in the sunshine is just the ticket (maybe try having just 1 scoop though?!)
Our bodies are the only ones we have. As a Physiotherapist, I see people day in day out who have aches and pains, injuries, are overweight, get headaches or are not functioning 100%.
More often than not, there is something in their lifestyle that is contributing to this and nowadays sedentary lifestyles are on the up. I meet so many people who work in office jobs, commute on the tube and then come home late and sit on the couch to relax as they are ‘exhausted’. We need to move more! I encourage my clients to re-prioritise their lives and put exercise higher on the agenda. Too often we prioritise work, social lives or social media. Did you know the guidelines for an adult is to do 150 minutes of cardiovascular exercise per week (e.g. walk, cycle, swim) OR 75 minutes of high intensity cardiovascular exercise (run, sport) AND 2 strength/conditioning circuits per week (Yoga, Pilates, resistance training, circuits).
Exercise is well known to make us feel better by releasing endorphins. As well as this it is probably THE best medicine and can help prevent long-term conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer and stroke. Try something different, variety is good. Work exercise into your life and find something that you actually enjoy. If you hate the gym, don’t join one, you’ll likely never go but instead maybe you love tennis or kayaking, rowing or Zumba…the options are endless.
- Mental and Emotional Health
Mental health problems are on the up and sadly, there is still a huge stigma attached to words such as ‘depression, ‘anxiety’, ‘bipolar’ or even ‘stress’.
Did you know, it is estimated that 1 in 6 people in the past week experienced a common mental health problem! The best way to tackle mental health problems is to talk about it! The more open and vulnerable we are with each other the easier it is to make meaningful friendships, which, in turn can help dramatically with many mental health problems.
We live in a super-fast paced part of the world. With busy streets, busy jobs, busy families, sometimes it can be hard to find the real you amongst all the chaos. Sometimes it can be hard, even with 1000+ Instagram followers not to feel lonely.
We need to become more aware that mental health issues are so common and until we start opening a dialogue and making our friends, family members or colleagues feel they can trust us to open up and not be judged, the problem could continue.
Resilience is also key, as life can be tough and how we deal with the knocks can often be the difference between you maintaining a healthy mind and not.
I love to sleep. Yes, I do realise as I am yet to have children, it is a luxury I should make the most of but that aside, we need more sleep. All of us need more sleep.
Sleep helps us to restore our energy levels and re-fuel, to recover from injuries. It helps with brain function and memory and can also help with weight management.
Once again, societal changes have meant we de-prioritise sleep as we now have so many more things we deem more important to do. Getting 7-9 hours of sleep per night could have a dramatic effect on your levels of production at work and make you feel less lethargic and irritable during the day.
Try establish a good sleep routine, wind-down before bed with a warm bath, dimly lit bedroom, read a book before bed. Try and go to bed at the same time each night and avoid eating a heavy meal, drinking or exercising less than 2 hours before going to bed.
Our financial health can have a huge effect on our general wellbeing. Financial struggles lead to so much stress and anxiety and are one of the leading causes of divorce in the UK. Do you live within your means? Peer pressure, along with social media can make us feel like we need more to be more! Maybe if I wear those clothes, or drive that car or have that house, maybe then I will fit. Do you identify with that at all? We are more than what we own. Sometimes going back to basics and having a picnic dinner party can be just as fun, if not more fun than going to a snazzy Michelin starred restaurant. Sometimes going away camping can be just as fun, if not more than staying in a 5 star resort! Don’t get me wrong, I too love nice things and lovely holidays, but sometimes just re-assessing what you are doing and why can make all the difference.
- Social – How do you spend your time and who do you spend it with. Social interactions are so important. Nurturing positive relationships can be a huge boost to your general wellbeing. I think it is great to have some close friends that you can rely on and who help build you up and comfort you. I also think it is just as important to have friends who challenge you. Who do you spend your time with? Do you make space for new relationships or do you close yourself off either because your ‘friend box’ is already full or because you have other barriers to break down? We are relational beings. We need people to help us become who we were made to be. Extensive evidence shows that having good-quality relationships can help us to live longer and happier lives with fewer mental health problems. Having close, positive relationships can give us a purpose and sense of belonging. Loneliness and isolation remain the key predictors for poor psychological and physical health. Having a lack of good relationships and long-term feelings of loneliness have been shown by a range of studies to be associated with higher rates of mortality, poor physical health outcomes and lower life satisfaction.
Intellectual stimulation, new experiences, expanding your horizons! These can all help your wellbeing. Do you read? What do you listen to? Have you always wanted to do learn a new skill but have yet to do it? All of these things help to enrich your life. To be stimulated intellectually can keep your brain active and help you with so much of the above. Too busy? Why not try audiobooks or podcasts?
Whether or not you have a faith, your spiritual wellbeing can help you stay true to who you are and who you want to become. What are your values? What belief systems do you adhere to? What are you passionate about? What are your goals and aspirations? Sometimes just spending time, time to reflect, to pray/meditate or just be still, can help fill up your ‘tank’. Sometimes we live day by day and find ourselves just going through the motions without much thought as to what we are doing and why. Taking time out regularly can help fill you up and enable you to do all those things that make you happy.
Try maintaining an ‘attitude of gratitude’ and keep a journal where you document daily, 3 things you are thankful/grateful for can be a great start.
Go back to basics –
Go fresh! Try fresh, unprocessed foods.
Try exercising outdoors like a walk/run or use a park bench to do some body weight circuits
Prioritise sleep and ensure you get a regular 7-9 hours
Hang out with people face to face not tablet to tablet
Quality and consistency
Everything you do, aim for quality and consistency. Fast and poor form or one-off’s will not lead to success. Instead remember, slow and steady wins the race!
‘Comparison is the thief of joy’
Be you! Try not to be anyone else but you. You are unique. You have a purpose in life that no one else can fulfil.
Author: Lauren Wolfe