An Introduction To Wellbeing

By: Dr Lauren Macdonald

Wellbeing has become an increasingly important factor for health and social policy. But what exactly do we mean by "Wellbeing"? And does it mean the same to everyone?

Wellbeing is a construct, rather than an emotion, perhaps best defined as a state of contentment. Levels of wellbeing often go up and down depending on how well we perceive our lives to be going at any specific time. High levels of wellbeing may mean that we have supportive social relationships, feel connected to the wider community and are generally enjoying life.

As we go through life each one of us will face change and challenges, and our lives may have to adapt to both our environment and our situation. Investing in our "wellbeing" throughout our lives, may help us to better respond to these difficult circumstances when they arise.

However, the way we achieve wellbeing may be different from person to person – after all, we are all unique in how we think and feel. In recent years, there has been a growing body of research into what contributes to the quality of people’s lives. This has enabled a new understanding of the factors that both influence and constitute wellbeing. These include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • ~Eating healthily

  • ~Adequate sleep

  • ~Regular physical exercise

  • ~Maintaining healthy relationships

  • ~Living in a clean, safe environment

  • ~Creating a healthy work-life balance

To a large degree, each one of us has the ability to improve our own wellbeing. For example, we can dedicate more time to exercising, set aside time to spend with friends, or choose to apply for a new job. However, the biggest threat to our own wellbeing tends to be ourselves. Without even giving it much thought, we run the risk of allowing our short term decisions to override what’s best for our long-term wellbeing.

You may not have any control over some of the challenges that life throws at you, but there are small and simple lifestyle choices that you can make that will make a big difference to the way you feel. Ultimately, improving your wellbeing is simpler than you think.

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