From Wellness to Well-being
by JANIE LOUBSER
The Importance of Well-Being and Simple Practices to Help You Commit
the quality or state of being healthy in body and mind, especially as the result of deliberate effort.
a good or satisfactory condition of existence; a state characterized by health, happiness, and prosperity
As a clinical psychologist, I was trained to always rule out any underlying medical conditions before making a psychiatric diagnosis. Physical safety is always put first and therefore, treated first. Over the years I have become very interested in my clients’ overall health – physical, emotional and spiritual – it helps me understand the various problems they are dealing with as well as give me clues to the solutions.
My aim with this article is to show you why your well-being is valuable, as well as let you in on my easy and effective practices to help improve your well-being.
It seems that we are faced with two extremes these days: on the one hand there is the wellness industry and on the other hand there is the success industry. Both call us to do more and be more and can make us feel as though we have to choose between being healthy and being successful. I would like to show you that you can have both. I introduced this concept in my first article ‘A New Path To Success: Discovering The True Emotions that will Lead You to the Success You Desire’, where I quoted Aristotle “First, have a definite, clear practical ideal; a goal, an objective. Second, have the necessary means to achieve your ends; wisdom, money, materials and methods. Third, adjust all your means to that end.” I want to expand on his second requirement in this article because I believe that the means that we need to achieve our desires are all reliant on us being well. Our well-being is our own powerful resource for achieving the life we want. As I said in that article, ‘you need to feel good in order to create the life you want.’
So the secret is that you can have both success and well-being if you make your well-being the foundation. Have you ever heard someone say that they lost weight (or rather, achieved their goal weight) when they were at their happiest? Or that they met their partner when they were not looking for someone? Successful corporations are also recognising that the happier and healthier their employees, the more productive they are. There is a link between well-being and success: the better you feel, the easier it is to achieve your goals and eventually, you will get the sweet spot where your well-being and your success are integrated into your one life. Here, well-being and success feel like the same thing.
SO WHAT IS WELl-BEING?
There are many definitions of health and wellness. It also seems that ‘wellness’ gained popularity more recently and comes up more in a Google search. I don’t see myself as a wellness expert and therefore won’t join the wellness industry – I’m not a dietician, medical doctor, physiotherapist etc. and therefore can’t diagnose or treat any physical or medical conditions but my area of expertise is helping others live more at ease with their whole being – how to be well, how to do well and how to live well – and in this order, if you feel well, you will do well and then your life will be well. This is a simple idea that I want to invite you to test yourself and my hope is that this article will show you the why and the how so that it is easy to take action.
By the time my clients come to see me they have tried so many different things to be healthy that I am sensitive to not add more to the list of (failed) things to do. Over the years, I have built up a collection of ideas and practices that are simple and effective. My philosophy of wellness is also simple, I see it as ‘well-being’ – you develop yourself until your whole being is well. There are two parts to this: the first being a rest and restore phase, a gentle rebuilding of strength that requires resting, relaxing and soothing. The second phase expands on this strength, here I want my clients to feel energized, vital, motivated, focused, confident and empowered. It can be helpful if you ask yourself what do you need right now? If you are stressed and anxious, you probably need to start with phase one and if you feel fairly calm and at ease but lack motivation and energy, then you can make phase two your goal.
Well-being is an on-going process. You won’t stay in phase two permanently, there will be times when you go through periods feeling stressed which call for you to go back to phase one to rest and renew before you can achieve the second phase again. The key is to catch it early on by noticing when you don’t feel well so that you can make the necessary adjustments.
There are, however, daily practices that you can adopt that will help you maintain well-being in a more balanced way. When you are in balance you will notice if something goes wrong in your system and it will be easy to achieve that balance again, but when you are out of balance you don’t necessarily notice these changes until it goes really bad and when by the time that happens, your body and mind are in such a state of crisis it is difficult to slow the crisis down.
Here is the Collection of Well-Being Practices that I have found to be the most effective for myself and my clients:
1 / WAKE UP HAPPY
When you wake up there is a small window of opportunity – a space in your mind – just before you start thinking about the day ahead. We wake up and moments later, when we realize we are awake, we start to think. How do your thoughts make you feel in that moment? Anxious, depressed, tired? Or excited, energized, satisfied and happy? You can choose how you feel when you wake up if you use that very moment to direct your thoughts to something that feels good.
2 / BE MINDFUL IN YOUR MORNING ROUTINE
We tend to hustle through our daily morning routines in an automatic, robotic way, often rushing out the door to get to work, miss traffic or not be late and this is often how we miss out on the benefits of these things. I suggest that you tend to these activities slowly and mindfully … finding the smallest pleasure in the simplest activities. Notice when you are doing each thing – when you drink your coffee, smell it, taste it, savour it and let it linger.
3 / MEDITATE
Mornings are the best time to meditate because you will get the most benefit from it, it helps you get ready for the day. Your mind is your instrument that you rely on throughout the day and just like a musical instrument that needs to be tuned every time before you are going to play, you also need to tune your mind and all it takes is setting aside as little as ten minutes for you to close your eyes and quietly focus on your breathing, in and out. Don’t worry if you get distracted by noises, notice them and go back to your breathing. Slowly you will learn to appreciate that you don’t have to block out the noises but suddenly you realise you would never have heard them otherwise and that’s something to consider. We constantly have external stuff coming at us all day long, this is one opportunity where you get to go in and do a little internal ‘housekeeping’ to rest and restore (critical to well-being in phase one). If I skip meditating in the morning it feels like trying to cook in a dirty kitchen. You can do it, I encourage you to work through it even if it is hard. Sometimes it may be messy and other times you may notice how amazing you feel, keep at it… if it is impossible for you to meditate in the morning then find another time, anything will be better than not doing it at all.
4 / JOURNAL
This is as simple as regularly writing down what you like, love and appreciate about your life, yourself and others. You only need to focus on the positive aspects of your life.
5 / INTENTION FOR THE DAY
Instead of reacting to whatever the day throws at you, I suggest that you decide early on in the day how you would like your day to play out. Write down the things you want to see happen today.
6 / MINDFULNESS MOMENTS
These mindfulness moments are there to help you track yourself and your intentions. I suggest that you do it late in the morning or afternoon. It is an opportunity to be quiet by focusing on your breath for at least ten counts. Then ask yourself if you feel satisfied with how your day is going. Focus again for ten more breaths and ask yourself what else you would like to see or do in this day.
7 / MOVEMENT
I use the word ‘movement’ instead of exercise because I want to invite you to move your body in a way that makes you feel good. In my well-being philosophy, I want to suggest that you think about how you feel and then decide what kind of movement you need. Do you need to relax or do you need to feel energized? You can also decide when you want to exercise.
8 / REVIEW AND END YOUR DAY
Before you go to bed you can take your journal out and write down the aspects of your day that were not so good. The idea is that you just jot them down – no need to analyse them or write the details – the aim is to write it down so that you can let go of it before you go to bed. Then you can write down the aspects of the day that you feel good about – again, it’s just a quick naming of these things. The order of capturing the negative aspects first, followed by the positive is important because I want you to take the positive with you to sleep.
You may be feeling overwhelmed by your life already and the idea of adding well-being practices to your life may add to your anxiety if you see it as more things to do. Allow me to offer you another perspective then, if you incorporate simple and effective well-being practices into your everyday life you are in effect expanding your capacity to have a full life. You are developing the very ‘means’ that Aristotle referred to. Your capacity as a human being will grow and your capacity to have a full life will grow. So, instead of seeing these practices as taking away from your time and your life, see it as giving you the capacity to enjoy your life as it is now and even have a fuller life if that is what you desire. This is where well-being leads to success and where they eventually become one life.
If you need more inspiration, have a look at Sarah’s Golden Rules article, I’ve seen how she has become more energised and powerful through committing to these practices.