Wellbeing coaches, lifestyle coaches, wellbeing seminars to name but a few are becoming the latest buzzwords within many companies and health and fitness circles of late. But what really is wellbeing? Why is this now a thing? What can we actually do to optimize our wellbeing?
What does wellbeing mean?
Wellbeing is defined as ‘the state of being comfortable, happy and healthy.’ A term that goes back to the 1800’s but up until the 1960’s was a term very rarely used by most people. In the last 40 years the use of the term has grown massively to the point that it now is used almost daily to describe aspects of our emotional and mental health.
Why is wellbeing now such a buzzword?
100 years ago there was no physical fitness or exercise culture for the masses. This is because people back then got sufficient exercise through day to day life and for those who did complete physical training this was generally to prepare for combat or to compete in sport.
Fast forward to today and fitness culture forms an essential part of our lives to help us live a long and fulfilled life. Why is this? How we live. Our sedentary lifestyles now mean that we need to exercise, move and consciously exert energy just to get by. A symptom of our lives is the existence of a fitness culture that prompts and encourages us to be physically active. Yet still as I write this many people choose not to exercise and as a society we continue to get more obese and unhealthy.
The idea of wellbeing as a pursuit is again another indication of a broken system. The demands placed on us in our day to day lives through work, social media, modern technology and the news mean that we are no longer able to maintain a state of being comfortable, happy and healthy unless we make a conscious effort to achieve this. Hence the rise of wellbeing coaches and initiatives in workplaces, an attempt to fix a broken system.
What can we do?
If we acknowledge that the system is broken, unsustainable and not likely to change any time soon then WE need to take action ourselves to put ourselves first, live our life towards our highest priorities and learn when to say no.
But like the fitness industry we are lead to believe that we can bio-hack or fast track our way out of this situation, no one will buy the truth that we just need to develop self autonomy and the awareness to understand when things just aren’t going right.
Simple ways to get balance
Wellbeing can crudely be seen as achieving balance between all elements of your life: work, family & friends and recovery/rest/play time. If we want to live the lives that will make us all smile when we are on our deathbeds the key is finding balance again between all these things. Here are some simple tools to implement to help you:
Plan all of your week - Time blocking is a great tool not only for productivity at work but also for balancing out life and ensuring that you are spending the time doing the things that matter to you. Each weekend sit down and prioritize your week based on what you want to achieve in terms of time with you family and friends, play/rest/recovery THEN work.
Learn to be present - Our phones and the internet have given us so much but also taken away so much of how we interact and live our lives. Set aside the time to leave the phone alone, be truly present in the moment where you are and who you are with.
Learn to say no - Perhaps the hardest thing of all for many of us to do. But simply the way we live now means that more demand is placed on us (especially at work) than we are physically capable of delivering. We spread ourselves too thin. Learn to say no and put yourself first, it is OK to be selfish.
Review your schedule regularly - Success in tracking what you eat often comes from the pure awareness of seeing what you are consuming on a day to day basis, apply this principle to tracking your time. Divide it up into work and rest, that is all, two buckets. What we want is a 60/40 split as a minimum. If this isn’t where you are now you will burn out and other factors in your life will suffer.
But I’m a Unicorn
You are not a unicorn. You need sleep. You need to eat regularly. You need exposure to the Sun. You need time to rest. You need to take a lunch break (that’s why they exist).
You need to put YOURSELF first.