We all try to achieve well-being; but, for many people this state of balanced health and happiness is an elusive prize. Even governments realize the need to measure their nation’s well-being as a factor of national health. How does one define well-being and why is it important?
What Well-Being Is
Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary simply defines well-being as “the state of being happy, healthy, or prosperous. “ One’s well-being or welfare does not only imply the absence of illness but it is a complex combination of a person’s state of satisfaction socially, psychologically, emotionally, and physically.
A person’s general well-being is based on the state of health of two aspects: the physical and the mental. A person must be healthy both physically and mentally for his well-being to be in peak form.
An individual’s well-being may be in stasis for some time and then change gradually or suddenly. Well-being may also vary from month to month or even from day to day. To illustrate: Chris may be dominating the gym, topping workouts for three months, and feeling self-confident and chippy. A sudden death in the family however throws this equilibrium off balance, finding Chris shocked, grieving, and unable to muster the same motivation to work out as he previously did. Chris goes through an emotional upheaval and becomes depressed. Because he does not feel like working out much anymore, Chris gains weight, loses muscle tone, and starts down a gradual physical spiral. In other words, Chris’ well-being takes a turn for the worse. In this case, the deterioration of his mental well-being has led to that of his physical well-being as well. This points to the fact that the welfare of both mind and body are connected; therefore, what affects one certainly affects the other.
Factors Influencing Well-Being
There is a multitude of factors that contribute positively or negatively to one’s well-being. The degree to which these common factors are present may indicate one’s state of welfare:
- Sense of purpose and relevance to others
- Self-worth; self-confidence
- General perception of life; level of optimism or pessimism
- Possession of realistic and achievable aims
- Financial security
- Balanced nutrition
- Sufficient regular exercise
- Adequate rest and recreation
- Fulfilling career
- Spiritual life
- Sense of belongingness
- Family relationships
- Friendships and work relations
- Ability to adapt to change
Many of these factors affect one another. The level of one may dictate the levels of others. For instance, having enough money allows one to experience more of life through travelling or taking up another hobby, thereby increasing one’s opportunities for recreation, self-growth, more friendships, and a higher sense of freedom. Some factors may even compensate for the lack of other must-haves. Being a successful mother may offset the lack of a working career and significantly higher income.
It actually depends how the person perceives the mix of factors he possesses by which he gauges his overall life satisfaction or well-being. He may be a millionaire with a lot of power and freedom; but he may lack satisfying familial relations or friends he can trust. In this case, he may regard his well-being as negative and may even envy a person of average means but with family and friends to rely on.
Maintaining Your Well-Being
Although life always throws us those proverbial left hooks, one must always try to achieve a positive sense of well-being in order to be happy. The key word then is balance. Try to achieve a balance between your mental and physical states. Remember, your mental well-being depends on your physical one and vice-versa.
Mental Well-Being Maintenance
- Build relationships
No man is an island and therefore everyone needs someone. If you build constructive relationships with positive and supportive people, you are more likely to have a better self perception, a network of people you can talk to, and a lesser chance of feeling lonely and depressed.
Maintain the relationships you already have or have built. Relationships need to be worked on or you lose touch. Give time to connect with family and with people you consider as friends.
- Keep Learning
There is always something new to learn and discover so make it a mission to do so. Keep your mind spry by reading, learning new skills, and discovering new concepts. Knowing more may push you to achieve more or see things in a different light. In any case, any self-improvement goes toward boosting self-esteem and mental well-being.
- Give Unto Others
A kind word, gesture, or token can make someone happy and you as well. Giving of one’s self has a positive mental impact in terms of making one feel needed and relevant. Joining a cause or humanitarian group could buoy your sense of well-being by opening you up to more friendships and helping you tap that innate well of good feelings when helping others.
- Be Mindful
Mindfulness is being presently aware of everything around you. Sometimes we forget how beautiful life is so we take a lot of things for granted. We forget to see the beauty of a tree or how pleasant water feels when we drink. Our mind is always on a million other things except for what is happening in the moment. Being mindful is a practice that can help you approach challenges and increase your mental state of well-being.
Physical Well-Being Maintenance
Practice a lifestyle of:
- good nutrition
- regular exercise
- adequate sleep
These are the foundations of good physical health. It is worth including the habits of good hygiene and safe sex as additions to these tenets.
Every aspect of your life contributes to your well-being. It is essential to find that balance and try to maintain it. Of course, life changes can always throw you off-kilter, but one must always learn or know how to get back on that wagon of general contentment, happiness, engagement, enjoyment, and health…well-being.