One way of thinking about wellbeing is that it is simply – not being unwell. I’m not currently ill, and so I’m well. And, I suppose this is technically true. But like many things when it come to we humans, to say simply well or unwell is far from the full picture. A more useful approach might consider a range, or a spectrum of relative wellness. If we have a bit of cold, we’re technically unwell, but we know we’re not as unwell as someone with the flu or pneumonia! Similarly, being well goes further than simply not suffering with some illness.
We could also differentiate between physical and mental wellbeing – the cold example relates to physical wellbeing (somtimes called ‘wellness’), and we might put stress into the mental wellbeing camp. Though, there is a connection. If we’re suffering with a cold, our body will be putting effort into dealing with the virus and we might not have the mental energy we normally do. We might feel a bit ‘miserable’, less likely to jump into a new project with our usual verve, even be a bit more pessimistic. On the other side, we know there can be a connection between low mood and low physical energy, or mental stress and illness.
In my book, high wellbeing combines both mental and physical wellbeing, and can be described as being on a spectrum, from illness through to flourishing… something like this for example:
So, when I talk about wellbeing, I’m considering all aspects of our being human, which at the high wellbeing end we could describe as flourishing. Which is not to say if we are suffering from a physical illness, we can’t improve our mental wellbeing or vice versa, simply that if we want to improve our wellbeing, we should consider both physical and mental approaches, or in other words a holistic wellbeing strategy… which is what you get at Wellbeing Berkshire 🙂