What does ‘Wellbeing’ mean?

This frequently coined term can be interpreted in lots of different ways but for me, ‘wellbeing’ is a holistic approach to looking after oneself, the wellness of our being; physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. 

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I see plenty of people in physically great shape who exercise a lot and eat a well-balanced diet, but they’re exhausted, overworked and overwhelmed.

It’s easy to focus on what we see, but we must start to recognise the subtler, less obvious parts of ourselves that also require the same amount of love and attention.

Are you able to notice when you’re feeling anxious or stressed?

Do you have a constant stream of thoughts coursing through your mind? Are you able to bring awareness to the pattern of thoughts you have? 

How much of your time is spent worrying about the future or re-hashing the past?

I have been studying Tai Chi for the past year and have been learning from a brilliant Master about the importance of raising the energy (Chi) in the physical body, balancing the emotions and calming the mind to create harmony and raise our level of consciousness.

What does balance in each of these areas really look like?

Physical Health

I see this area as the energy centre which helps us do the things we want to do, whether that be an intense HIIT session, a relaxing yoga flow sequence, a marathon or a walk to your local shops. 

To have great physical health is to have an abundance of energy and vitality, free from disease and pain. It can determine how well we recover from illness and the strength of the immune system.

It is more than the way we look, it is about the way we fuel the body and how we feel. Many people strive for the goal of losing weight, gaining muscle and ‘looking fit’ but there is so much more to physical health than this. 

Diet is a huge contributing factor as it helps the body to function optimally. In order to expend energy, we have to keep bringing it in via the food we eat. If the body is continually having to filter out toxic waste, eventually, it stops functioning properly and this is where we start to see problems arising.

People are now realising the role of a good diet for good health but what about the impact of stress?

Thousands of years ago, the ‘fight or flight’ response was ordinarily used at times of great danger, when our ancestors were being chased by lions or tigers and had to run away FAST!

During this response, the body is cleverly prioritising what it needs, without you even realising it. Anything not needed for immediate survival is placed on the back burner; which means that digestion and tissue repair are temporarily halted.

This is great if you really are being chased by a predator, but nowadays, the predator is in our minds!

We are mostly unaware of the low-level stress we carry around with us all day long and how it is affecting our bodies.

Emotional Health

To be emotionally healthy is to be aware of thoughts, feelings and emotions. The combination of these is the driving force behind our reactions. 

How one person interprets a situation will be different from the next. Deep-rooted beliefs and bottled emotions can heavily impact our perception of the world and how we react to something someone says or does.

Imagine the scenario:

You’ve just made it to the bus stop in time, only to realise that you left your purse at home and you have no way of paying the fare. Not only do you miss the bus, but you have to go all the way back home and will be even later for work.

Feelings of anxiety and stress start to bubble as you imagine how your boss will react. 

You start berating yourself for being so stupid and disorganised which only fuels the anxiety and makes you feel worse about yourself.

When you finally get home to retrieve your purse, you’re completely wound up and lash out at your partner when they innocently ask why you’ve returned. 

It’s only hours later when you’re at work and have had time to reflect on the morning that you start to feel bad for taking it out on your partner and call to apologise.

Bringing awareness to how we feel in any given situation helps us to process the emotions that arise and allows us to respond in more appropriate ways. 

It also helps us to feel the emotions in a way that enables us to release them, rather than store them internally. Stored up emotions will eventually come up when triggered by someone or something so it’s better to catch them as they arise.

Mental Health

Is there a difference between mental and emotional health?

I define mental health as how the mind processes information and experiences, whilst emotional health is how we manage and express the emotions that arise from what we’ve learnt and experienced. 

The term ‘mental health’ is frequently confused with mental health conditions, such as depression, anxiety, schizophrenia and others. However, “Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices.”. 1

This is an area that really needs attention, as the way in which we process information and experiences hugely impacts our reality and how we view ourselves and the world.

In the words of Eckhart Tolle:

“The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation, but the thoughts about it, be aware of the thoughts you are thinking”.

What you feel is the result of the words and images you construct in your mind.

When was the last time you examined your thoughts?

Are your thoughts empowering or limiting?

How often do you recognise yourself complaining? 

It is important to recognise that we have thoughts, but we are not them and bringing awareness to the chatter enables us to see whether we have a largely positive or negative view of our experiences.

Spiritual Health

Spirituality means something different to everyone. For me, it is a sense of connection to something bigger than all of us, a realisation that we exist in unity with all of life and the Universe. It often involves a search for the meaning of life; something we all question at some point.

Spirituality can be described in broader terms than religion; while there are definite distinctions between the two, they overlap in our individual experiences, affecting how we think, feel and behave.   

Having a set of spiritual beliefs does not make a person spiritual. Being a spiritual person means taking responsibility for who we are and for what we send out into the world; it is a reflection of our state of consciousness. 

It is an inward journey; when we tune into ourselves at a deeper level, we start to feel more connected to life and to those around us. We make better decisions for ourselves; we have more clarity about what lights us up and our actions become more consistent with our beliefs and values.

To have a greater understanding of ourselves allows us to listen to our intuition and those ‘gut’ feelings. This strengthens the connection to our true nature and the deep knowing that decisions we make are for the highest good of ourselves and others. Instead of being ruled by the mind, we are ruled by the heart and it is from here that we make the best choices. 

I have given a brief overview of each area but I encourage you to delve into the wonderful world of true health and find what resonates with you.

Amanda Dungate

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