Feelings of well-being are fundamental to our overall health, enabling us to successfully overcome difficulties and achieve what we want out of life. But what do we mean by well-being and how do we achieve it?
'Well-being' includes having good mental health, high life satisfaction, a sense of meaning or purpose and our ability to manage stress. Past experiences, attitudes and outlook can all impact on our wellbeing as can physical or emotional trauma following specific events.
Good physical and mental health contributes to a greater sense of well-being but equally having a greater sense of well-being can improve our physical and mental health.
Being physically active can be a huge boost to our mental health. It can reduce our risk of developing serious medical conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease, as well as providing therapeutic and management effects for those with poor health.
As well as leading to improvements in strength, balance, movement and motor skills, it can help us maintain a healthy body weight, improve the quality of our sleep, reduce unhealthy behaviours like smoking, reduce mortality and improve our quality of life as we get older.
Looking after your physical wellbeing isn’t just about staying active… although being outside and making the most of the great outdoors does help. Getting a good night’s sleep and eating healthily also add to the many lifestyle factors that build up the cornerstones of a healthy way of life.
How you feel and how well you can cope with day to day life is not static, it can change from day to day, even moment to moment.
If you have good mental wellbeing you are able to:
- feel relatively confident in yourself and have positive self-esteem
- feel and express a range of emotions
- build and maintain good relationships with others
- feel engaged with the world around you
- live and work productively
- cope with the stresses of daily life
- adapt and manage in times of change and uncertainty
Actvities that help improve our mental well-being include spending time with family or friends, 'giving back' to your community through volunteering or simply providing support to someone in need, keeping physically active, learning new skills and living in the present moment (mindfulness).
You see, the truth so many people seem to miss is that happiness doesn't start with a relationship, a job or a college degree. It starts with your thoughts and what you tell yourself everyday.
Well-being and nature
Studies show that spending time outdoors is beneficial to both our physical and mental well-being. See Valuing the outdoors for more.
Work and well-being
Good work is considered to be of benefit to our health and well-being, whilst being unemployed is associated with poorer physical and mental health. Work can be therapeutic and even reverse the adverse health effects of unemployment. See Why Work or Volunteer? for more.
What are the 5 Ways to Wellbeing?
Useful websites on well-being
- Action for Happiness
- Happiful Magazine
- Happify: The 6 skills that will increase your well-being
- NHS Mood Self-Assessment
- Sport England: Mental well-being