Health vs. Well-Being

Physical health may be easy to define as the absence of disease or illness. If your cholesterol levels are in the right zone, good for you, (honestly – this is a good thing) you have optimal cholesterol health. Health in terms of well-being however is a little harder to define.  

Well-being can be described as the mental and physical state that allows us to not only survive, but thrive as individuals. The World Health Organisation states (mental) well-being as the “state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community”. (1)

Ok! Sign me up for that Utopian environment. 

Each of the mentioned constituents are completely subjective, and measured differently between individuals, personal values, cultures and socioeconomic demographics. There are no standardized reference values or “green zones” here. So what general aspects need to be addressed in a modern life to adequately address well-being?

Your physical health is a good way to start, and something most of us have some level of control over. Getting enough sleep, eating more whole, nutrient rich foods, moving your body and don’t forget those regular check-ups to monitor/get on top of anything we may need a little extra help with. 

Of course there are a few things that we don’t have control over in our lives that affect well-being. Tight finances add stress and may make access to health care difficult. You might live in an area or community that adds extra layers of stress in your life. And yes, if that extra deadline on top of your already full workload would go away your current state of well-being would feel a lot more manageable. Another aspect that has a HUGE impact on well-being that we have some measure of control (with practice) over is, that your mind and attitude. lists the following 15 tips to boost your well-being and happiness, and whilst they might not solve all the factors influencing your ability to thrive right now, some of them are surely worth a shot. 

  1. Accept your emotions – acknowledge how you feel. And simply allow yourself at least a moment to feel your feelings. 
  2. Take daily risks – getting in a rut can often get you nowhere
  3. Live in the present – I may still be upset about what happened to me, but is it happening to me right now (or even recently)?
  4. Be introspective – consider where your thoughts, feelings and actions are stemming from. There might be something that is more important for your attention that what’s currently ruffling the feathers. 
  5. Laugh – or at least while you are reading this, a little smile. Put on that movie that makes you belly laugh. 
  6. Determine and live your personal values – it has been said that happiness exists when what you “think, say and do, are all in alignment”. 
  7. Identify and use your individual strengths – doing what we are good at can help us feel energized and empowered. If you need some inspiration, why not ask a close friend what your strengths are, and get a little bit more connected in the process. 
  8. Keep tabs on your thoughts – analyse and challenge your own thoughts and behaviors from time to time, often they might not be helping the situation. 
  9. Practice gratitude – even when there is a lot going wrong, write down 3 things that you are thankful for going right. 
  10. Discover or rediscover a passion – what did you enjoy before everything else got in the way?
  11. Do what makes you happy first thing – see number 2. The daily autopilot rut is not a good thing. 
  12. Get rid of rotten eggs – things that you don’t necessarily have to deal with, but that always drag down your mood. 
  13. Surround yourself with positive scents sights and sounds – and; always stop to play with puppies. 
  14. Get inspired – anything and everything can add inspiration, so find yours. A book, song or conversation with someone you admire can give you the boost to think outside the box you may have created for yourself.
  15. Carve out time to meditate – Meditation isn’t complicated. Just keep a few minutes to yourself each day to just, breath, relax, and enjoy the moment (you have 3 minutes). (2)

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