To set the scene, the pursuit of “wellness” or “wellbeing” (we’ll discuss that in more detail later…) came to the forefront of my mind when I found myself in a mentally damaging work space.
I had struggled with the idea of returning to work after maternity leave. It brought on a desperation to find something that suited family life better than a 1.5 hour round trip commute. Thus began the hunt for remote based jobs that would eliminate a commute altogether (HA! Little did I know COVID was just around the corner, and nearly all office based work would go remote…).
I thought I had hit the jackpot when I found myself in a role entirely based from home. No only that, but in an industry that I thought suited me down to the ground. What I didn’t know at the time, was that I was about to enter a world entirely focused on micro-management, with a culture of over work and harsh feedback delivery.
My life turned into a constant cycle of working until 10pm and never feeling like the job was done (or at the very least good enough to meet standards). And the worst bit? I didn’t even see how damaging the experience had become to who I was as a mum, wife, and friend, until a new opportunity literally fell at my doorstop.
Where it all changed…
A well-established brand approached me via LinkedIn, late one Friday evening. They were looking for someone with the skills and experience that I held, and they wanted me as soon as possible. This unexpected change made me so nervous, but as soon as I was met with the shockingly hostile response in answer to my notice, I knew that the change was meant to be.
That experience, and the vast contrast I have now seen through immersing myself in a culture that lives and breathes mental health and wellness, is what has led me to put my own journey to wellness on the agenda, and focus on this at every junction in life.
But what is wellness?
When we think of wellness, we often relate it to physical health only. However, by definition, there are seven dimensions of wellness (source):
- Physical – adequate exercise, proper nutrition and protecting yourself from harm
- Emotional – tuning into your thoughts and feelings and practicing stress management
- Intellectual – participating in creative, mentally stimulating activities
- Social – showing respect for others and cultivating healthy relationships
- Spiritual – be inquisitive, curious and fully present
- Environmental – awareness of the unstable state of the earth and the effects of your daily habits on the physical environment
- Occupational – making use of your skills and talents in order to gain purpose, happiness, and enrichment in your life
I just love how these areas are summarised into one little bubble, encompassing every area that we need to touch in the pursuit of wellness.
Now…let’s bring it back to real life for a second. I’ll remind you that I have a full time job, a toddler, a dog and a husband. Life is busy, and it’s easy to believe that accomplishing success in all of the above areas is simply impossible. And do you know what? I agree. I actually think that for any human being, feeling accomplished in every aspect of wellness is impossible. None of us have this nailed, but we should all have it somewhere on our agenda to make some of the pieces fit into our puzzles. Your journey to wellness should be seen as exactly that, a journey…not a destination.
How will you make wellness work for you?
In writing this post, I spent a long time looking at that list. Wondering how I really will make this a part of my day to day life. Honestly, there are days where I want to throw a saucepan across the room when my child refuses another meal that I spent far too long making, and that just doesn’t seem very “wellness focused” does it?
I guess that balance is what it’s all about though. You don’t have to change your personality to become focused on wellness, you just need to have it on your agenda.
Start by identifying your areas of weakness. I know that mine are most likely physical and spiritual…specifically in the sense that I often fail to eat proper nutritious meals, and I don’t always feel fully present. But do you know what, I’m not going to beat myself up about it. I often fall claim to thinking I need to change my entire life in a matter of 24 hours. Entire diet plans that I believer I am going to stick to forever, and by the end of the week, I’m eating pizza again. It’s OK to make small changes, and to allow yourself areas of weakness.
Setting wellness intentions
Sounds pretentious, doesn’t it? But, what if each week, you found time to sit down and journal one simple intention focused on each of those dimensions of wellness? Or even, just picking one dimension to focus on this week?
It could look like this…
- Physical – moving my body in between meetings. This could include 15 minutes speed cleaning, walking the dog for an hour, or getting the food shop done.
- Emotional – giving myself 20 minutes “quiet time” as soon as bathtime/bedtime is done. Time to reflect on my day and completely zone out
- Intellectual – read a book for 20 minutes at bedtime
- Social – reach out to a friend this week to make plans, or just see how they are
- Spiritual – read one article that increases your knowledge of a different culture
- Environmental – identify a plan to go plastic free in our bathrooms
- Occupational – Give myself a realistic to do list at work, and celebrate small wins
For me, that feels really do-able. It feels specific, and it feels productive. If I could reflect back on having achieved that list at the end of the day/week, I know that I would feel good about it.
So, how does wellness sound to you now? It doesn’t have to be an airy fairy term, aimed at yoga addicts who down green smoothies for breakfast. It should be for everyone.
I would love to hear what you think either here or drop into my Instagram DMs…
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