Wellbeing is about taking a holistic approach to feeling good. That means encompassing your eight dimensions of wellness ; Physical, Spiritual, Emotional, Environmental, Vocational, Intellectual, Financial and Social.
It is important to look at each of these areas and how they intersect as research has shown finding a good balance between these dimensions leads to a more satisfying, fuller life.
So let’s break it down- what do these areas mean?
Most people know what IQ means, but EQ is equally, if not more important. EQ is emotional intelligence and research has shown that those with a good EQ, tend to be more balanced, and successful. Emotional well-being encourages autonomy and proper decision making skills. People with high EQ are often less indecisive than those with a lower EQ.
EQ is about the relationship between having positive and negative feelings and being able to understand how to handle them. This is called emotional regulation ability. Regulating emotions can be difficult especially in times of high stress but by reflecting on how situations impact you, you can increase your ability to learn and grow from these experiences, thus increasing regulation abilities.
Emotional wellbeing is an important part of overall wellness. Self-esteem and optimism can be key aspects to being emotionally well.
Here are some tips to help achieve positive emotional wellbeing:
- Practice positive affirmations, they can increase your self esteem
- Being grateful for what you have in your life in this can strengthen relationships with family and friends.
- Don’t view mistakes or failures as awful experiences. Mistakes are learning opportunities.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for or accept help from others.
- Try to stay positive, always. Changing your perspective to seek the positives rather than focusing on the negatives can be extremely beneficial
Spirituality is often confused with religion. Probably a hang up from the days when the only thing spiritual was going to mass! Spirituality CAN involve religion or religious elements but it is not the definitive answer. Spirituality involves a set of core beliefs or values that shape you and how you live your life having this often creates harmony within your soul or inner being. Spirituality in other words is being in tune with yourself and bringing things into your life which bring you joy and nourish your soul. That might sound very ‘hippie’ to some people, if it does to you, stop now and think about why and how you do the things you do. Are you following habits passed on to you by the people who reared you, or are you doing things that you really authentically enjoy and believe in? If you are not, then finding the things that give you this, is embracing your spirituality. Spirituality also means knowing which resources to use to cope with issues that come up in everyday life.
Intellectual well being is not about how smart you are or being the smartest in the room! It is not even solely about IQ. It is about personal development in areas that increase your intellectual wellbeing, such as involvement in community activities, further education, cultural activities and cultivating hobbies and interests.
By taking part in activities that stimulate us mentally and engage us creatively you can expand your knowledge base, and, perhaps share your wisdom with others.
Here are some tips for developing your intellectual wellness
- Openness and willingness to explore new territories and try new things.
- Get creative! You don’t need to be Picasso or Banksy to explore your creativeness. In Fact you don’t even need to be remotely artistic! Your creativity could be music, dancing, baking, writing etc. Try new things till you find a creative outlet. Which leads to,
- Get a hobby. Not only can they be fun, and a good way to meet new people with similar interests, hobbies are great for increasing your skills and knowledge.
- Explore! Travel. There’s a good reason they say travel broadens the mind! The best way to gain knowledge as well as an appreciation for another culture is to experience it yourself.
- Listen. I mean REALLY listen. I always tell my daughter, “you have two ears and one mouth for a reason, you should listen twice as much as you speak”. When you are actively listening you have better ability to understand the information that is being given to you.
This is looking after your physical health. Everyone has differing abilities and needs so there is no simple one size fits all answer here. EVERYONE has been moving less and stationary more since we first went into lockdown on March 13th. It is important to look at your situation for what it is and not judge your needs by someone else’s standards. If you are fit and active that’s brilliant you should be proud of yourself and keep up the good work. If you are not as fit as you would like to be, start simple. It is important to build strength, flexibility, and endurance. Don’t panic and decide you’re doing a triathlon in a month and then get disappointed and give up when that doesn’t happen. Incorporate more moving into your day, maybe walk to the shops instead of taking the car. Small changes can make a big difference. Integrating exercise, small dietary changes, more nutritious foods, and moderation of alcohol consumption are some things you can do.
Here are some more suggestions that could be brought into your daily routine without too much inconvenience:
Stand don’t sit (if possible) – Most of us have increased time on the screens be it for work, study or downtime (be real how many box sets have you gone through?!) – this means increased time sitting in front of a screen. If you can stand instead of sitting for even 5-10 minutes out of each hour you are online it is better for your physical health. Or as per Irish Heart foundations guidelines, stand up and get active for 1 minute each hour.
- Be Snack Aware! – That’s right we’ve all been snacking a bit more during our increased screen time. More cups of tea means more biscuit!. Fizzy drinks! Crisps! Chocolate! Oh how we love to indulge! But, sometimes we aren’t even aware of how much we are snacking between meals, especially if spending more time at home. An easy way to combat this is to pre plan your snacks. Literally just a lunchbox or bag put together the night before with a set number of snacks you can choose from can limit the number of times we go wandering to the fridge or press. It can also make you more aware of the kind of things you are snacking on. Which leads to the next suggestion,
- Snackright! – Make one change to what you snack on, substitute crisps for nuts / dried fruit for the crunch fix, substitute a fizzy drink for water etc. You might think because your weight is healthy that you can snack on whatever you like, (you can nobody is stopping you!) but whilst we can see physical changes to our bodies we can’t see what’s going on inside. The unhealthy stuff we snack on could contribute to high cholesterol and other issues. Be snack conscious, be snack wise, make one change and work from there.
- Get more active – Health officials recommend 30 minutes a day for five days, or 150 minutes a week of moderate intensity exercise. That’s a fact. And, we don’t disagree. However, we do understand this may seem daunting or undoable to some people. What we suggest is start simple and do what YOU CAN DO. Don’t think “I need to get healthy so I need to go run 10k” because that’s just not going to work and it will demotivate you. Start with simple and achievable goals. Go for a walk for 10-30 minutes depending on what you can personally manage. As you implement this into your routine it WILL get easier and who knows you could be running that 10k sooner than you think!
Environmental Wellbeing encourages us to live in harmony with our surroundings. Respect the Earth and to do our bit to protect it. Respect for all nature and all species living in it. It does not mean you have to become radical or that you must join a movement but perhaps start habits that promote a healthy environment. When you become environmentally aware, you will be able to realise how your daily habits affect the environment and can impact on your carbon footprint.
Ways to improve environmental wellbeing:
- Spend time outdoors. Ok Ireland in winter makes this tricky, but if you wrap up well fresh air is good for the mind, body and soul and you boost your vitamin D at the same time!
- Reduce, Reuse, Recycle – Reduce waste by only buying what you need, composting where you can and recycling packaging. Reuse things by upcycling and donating and buying in second hand shops where possible.
- Educate yourself on renewable and non renewable resources and where possible try to choose renewable energy.
- Reduce energy consumption – switch off plugs and lights when not in use, lower the thermostat by a couple of degrees.
Financial wellness does not mean you need to have millions stashed away. Although nobody is saying that wouldn’t be nice. There’s no denying Money plays a critical role in our lives and not having enough of it impacts health. Financial stress is repeatedly found to be a common source of stress, anxiety, and fear. Whilst you may not be able to change your financial income, learning to budget and manage your money better can alleviate some of the stress. This may also mean reassessing your ‘needs’ versus ‘wants’ . We have basic needs that bring us expenses, food, water, heat, shelter. If we have limited means we need to prioritise what we absolutely need work towards what is desired. Accepting that our wants do not equate our needs can lead to increased financial wellbeing.
Here are some tips to achieve financial wellbeing:
- Use student discounts where you can.
- Don’t delay act today! – as you identify potential financial problems, address them.
- Plan ahead and set budget goals.
- Organise as you go – keep financial records organised in a document wallet or folder.
- Balance your other dimensions of Wellness, they all tie into financial wellness as well.
Occupational wellbeing, sometimes called vocational wellbeing, is about finding work that is fulfilling and satisfying to you. Work that gives you value and meaning. In an ideal world we would all be able to work at what we love. That’s not always the case, when you have bills to pay and other financial commitments. However, you can find this element in other ways, you might volunteer with a group / organisation, or, offer to run some classes at your local youth or community group, and by sharing your special gifts, skills, and talents in these settings you can make a positive impact and reap the health benefits of adding purpose to your life.
Here are some ways to occupational wellbeing
- Reflect on yourself and your occupational needs. What occupational tasks do you enjoy? What occupational tasks do you find burdensome?
- Explore both paid and unpaid work and volunteer opportunities that interest you.
- Practice open communication and proper conflict management with your colleagues.
- Set realistic career goals for yourself and constantly work towards accomplishing these goals.
Social wellbeing is about building and maintaining connections which will enrich your life. Having good quality relationships is beneficial to you in times of high stress as it provides you with a good support network. You don’t necessarily java to be a social butterfly to ensure good social wellbeing, it is not about being the most popular person in the room and knowing everyone, it is quality over quantity, investing time and nurturing relationships with friends and family. Having good social wellness is critical to building emotional resilience, which is what helps us get through those tough times. During Covid it may seem increasingly difficult to be social, however it is increasingly important to maintain those social connections. Have a virtual tea and a chat with a friend on a video or phone call. Within regulations and strictly adhering to all Covid guidelines go for a walk in the park. Don’t shut yourself off to your connections.
Here are some general ways to boost social wellbeing:
- Get involved with a club or society in college, it’s a great way to meet new people with similar interests
- As mentioned above, find ways to stay connected with supportive friends and family.
- When involved in discussion practice active listening.
- Think about your social needs. What areas of your social life would you like to make improvements to? What would be the best way to do this?