Re-prioritize personal and community wellbeing this year.
There are a number of ways in which we can take charge of our own mental wellbeing and health this year. It has been a challenging 18 months for many of us, and many of us have had our lives and routines disrupted by external events we have had no control over. Unprecedented times have triggered unprecedented changes and choosing how we move forward from these changes may ultimately impact our mental health for the year ahead.
Many people believe that boosting our own wellbeing is not something we can achieve alone. True happiness comes from connection, community and helping others. Boosting our wellbeing requires a great deal of looking inside and changing our own habits and perspective, but it also requires taking to the steps to connect with others in different ways. Building, fostering and maintaining relationships is a core component of wellbeing.
Wellbeing covers all areas of our life - from our mental health, to our social lives, to our physical health and fitness, to how we feel about our careers, to the communities and people we are surrounded by. Wellbeing may look different from person to person but generally it involves having good, solid relationships and people in our lives we can connect to and trust. It means enjoying good physical health, and exercise plays a large role in boosting our wellbeing both in the short and long term. It also means some degree of job and career satisfaction. For many people wellbeing also means a strong connection with the natural environment, and an understanding of the important of sustainability and environmental protection. Connecting with the natural world has long been considered one of the most effective ways to boost our happiness and wellbeing levels. Wellbeing stretches and runs through all areas of our lives - and while some decisions to improve our wellbeing might be major ones, for example, a career change, others involve small steps- getting more sleep, for example.
Tied up also with wellbeing is the idea of being satisfied with our lives, and feeling some degree of life purpose. Are we getting the balance right? Career satisfaction is important, but if it comes at the expense of personal and social relationships, maybe something is out of balance. Wellbeing, true wellbeing, means some more akin to a super well-rounded life. One where all areas of it are in balance. It happens, busy lives and work especially takes over, and we often end up neglecting connections and relationships. The last 12 months have been a particularly difficult time to get connections alive, as pandemic restrictions have paused most of our social lives, especially in-person. The fact that larger numbers of us are also working from home, means we might need to address where areas of our lives are out of balance.
There are many ways to assess our own sense of wellbeing. Ask yourself - do I feel fulfilled in all areas of my life? Do I feel like something is missing? Do I feel overworked, burnt out and disconnected from friends and my community? Do I have interests outside of work? When was the last time I exercised, or went for a walk in nature? Generally if you are feeling more anxious, stresses and overwhelmed, it might be time to address your own wellbeing.
The NHS have come up with their own five factors to improving wellbeing, and these are all areas of our lives we can review and assess from time to time.
1. Connections with other people
This can be with close friends, family members, neighbours, or colleagues. Anyone who we interact with, whose company we enjoy, and who a relationship with makes us feel better about ourselves. Relationships are crucial to our wellbeing, not just when we are going through difficult times, but all the time. Someone to talk to, someone to trust, someone to laugh with - interactions with others are often what give our lives meaning and a sense of purpose. Also being able to be there for others is important in making us feel valued. Right now this might still mean a lot of online interactions, but these still matter and can make a difference.
There are no negatives to exercising more. Exercise is well-known to improve our physical and mental health. Whether it is a commitment to walking or cycling to work, or whether it's joining a new yoga class or workshop, exercise is good for us. Setting new goals that push us to be more physically active is good for us. It challenges us, and gives us something positive to work towards. Even better if you can commit to some form of regular exercise in nature.
3. Keep learning
Give your self-confidence and self-esteem a regular boost by learning something new. Whether it's reading a book, taking a course, or being determined to teach yourself a new skill, lifelong learning is important for our wellbeing. It doesn't have to be a grand time and effort commitment, by all means if you want that Master's go for it, but it can also be something simpler, like trying out a new recipe or attempting a home DIY project.
4. Give back
Giving back is important for our wellbeing. Helping others, whether it's with a phone call to a friend who needed to talk, or something bigger like volunteering - thinking of, and acting for others, is good for us. It helps us achieve a true sense of purpose, and it makes us feel better. It can also be a great way to help us to remember what we are grateful for about our own lives.
5. Stay in the present
Mindfulness - being aware of how we are feeling is important. Owning our emotions, both positive and negative, is also important. Mindfulness is one way that we can connect with our emotions in a moment. It is not about avoidance, more about acknowledgement. Owning our emotions is the best way to tackle them.
There is a lot we can do to boost our own wellbeing. There is also plenty we can do to avoid routines, habits and behaviors that can negatively impact on our wellness. Poor sleep, substance abuse, a lack of social connection, poor diet and nutrition, a lack of exercise can all impact negatively on how we feel both in the short and long term. They can also have a knock on effect on both our mental and physical health.
If you feel you are struggling to address or correct your own wellbeing, it may be time to talk to a counsellor or therapist.
Wellbeing, true positive wellbeing, for many of us is a constant work in progress. With many things in life, there are good days and bad days. It is important to be kind to yourself. Self-care is a significant part of boosting our wellbeing - whether it's something luxurious like a special spa day or holiday, or simply enjoying a picnic in the park. A balance life starts with self-care, always.
At Vonder we believe in the importance of wellbeing. So much so that all of our co-living complexes, (co-living London, Berlin, Warsaw and Dubai), were developed with quality living first. They were developed with the goal of providing not only high-quality housing in great locations, but also with the aim of making it easier for people to build communities and connect through how they live, work and play.