10 Nov Improving Wellbeing with Five Small Actions
I recently participated as a panelist for the Health Promotion in Panemics Global Webinar for Youth, organized by the Alliance for Health Promotion, an international NGO based in Geneva. I had the good fortune to work alongside other experts in the wellbeing field as well as youth activist making a positive impact on the wellbeing of the peers. In this post I will share with you some of the concepts I spoke about in addition to sharing a sophrology practice with the participants.
What are the domains of wellbeing and how can you improve your own? There are many domains of wellbeing and in some cases I think we have made it overly complicated. The reality is that our wellbeing is impacted by everything we do, eat, drink, listen to, watch, purchase. The list is long. I prefer to keep things simple. Our mind likes things simple. To that end I like the five domain model of theFullFrameInitiative which lists the five domains as: social connectedness, stability, mastery, safety and meaningful access to resources.
For most of us, each of these domains was likely impacted during the pandemic which continues to move around the globe. Let’s explore these domains and how we can improve our wellbeing, now and long after the pandemic is a thing of the past.
This related to having a sufficient number of relationships where we exchange information, both from the giving and receiving end. These relationships offer emotional support and at times material support. They also bring us a sense of belonging to a larger group.
Wellbeing is improved when we belong to more than one group. These groups being diverse in age, social strata and interest. During the pandemic virtual platforms such as Teams and Zoom really helped us to stay socially connected. Its the “energy” exchange that improves wellbeing and a full energy exchange involves all of our senses. As good as the virtual platforms are they do not activate all of our senses and do not replace in-person interactions which enables us to connect on a deeper level.
Wellbeing is improved when we belong to more than one social group.
If you found yourself scrolling, liking, and commenting on social media platforms more often during the pandemic, you likely did not gain a wellbeing boost. Social media platforms do not activate all of our senses. Perhaps the emergency of the meta verse platform will mimic in-person social connection and have a bigger impact on our wellbeing? Only time will tell.
Stability is all about routine! It is the degree to which we can expect our situation and status to be fundamentally the same from one day to the next. Everyone that went through a lockdown or any form of restriction due to the pandemic felt some form of instability. Stability is directly related to our access to money, and other resources like food (…and toilet paper), water and shelter that we are accustomed to. It is also about having a routine throughout the day including eating, being productive, sleeping, exercising, seeing friends, etc.
Without stability we do not have predictability, and predictability helps us concentrate better on the here and now, on the future, our growth, and our personal evolution. When we have stability, it is much easier for us to overcome small obstacles.
Developing a routine creates stability for the mind and the body.
During the height of the pandemic you might have found yourself making mountains out of mole hills. This is a direct result of not feeling stable. Resilience building is the key to overcoming “instability”. Building resilience in stable times helps us accept, and dare I say, continue to thrive in unstable times.
This is an interesting one as it relates to the degree to which you feel in control of your fate and the decisions you make. During the pandemic some people have felt the government mandated controls were, and still are too limiting. Others welcomed them as they believed it gives us back our personal freedom. This domain is also related to experiencing some correlation between effort and outcomes.
Each one of us has had to adjust how we work, study and play during the pandemic. The type of “effort” we have had to make during the pandemic has been different. And in some cases has not resulted in the correlation to outcome that we would normally expect.
Find small things to master, decluttering counts!
During situations such as the pandemic it is important to find small wins. Small events that you can feel a sense of accomplisment from. I have heard from some people that simply learning to cook new meals gave this sense of mastery. As well as doing puzzles or starting a simple fitness routine that they felt they never had time to do before. For some people mastery came in the form of changing their business model. They embraced and mastered the online world.
Safety correlates with the degree a person can be their authentic self without a heightened risk of physical or emotional harm. The debate over vaccines, and the rhetoric, blaming and shaming on social media between groups with differing opinions affected people’s safety. The missinformation or underlying distrust of “expert opinions” that often differed created an environment of uncertainty that ultimate impacts our feelings of safety.
Uncertainty is also heightened by the 24/7 media cycle. And in many cases people lost their ability to empathize with others or keep a sense of decorum when interacting on social media platforms. People forget that these platforms are global and very public.
There are times when disconnecting from the news cycle is beneficial… especially when it comes to our wellbeing.
Meaningful Access to Relevant Resources
To have meaningful access means that the access is not overly onerous, degrading or dangerous. Relevant resources defined as those we need to meet the needs particularly important to us and our situation. The pandemic created some challenges and we have all had to adjust. Working and learning from home, beginning a work career, having access to timely healthcare or home services not related to covid presented potential resource scarcity issues.
Many people did not have the proper set up at home for online working or schooling. While this caused stress for some, others needed access to medical services and just could not get them, at times leading to longer term health issues and in some cases, loss of life.
Taking Charge of Your Wellbeing
With the potential for all five of these domains having been impacted by the pandemic it is no wonder that many people feel their wellbeing has diminished. The opportunity for wellbeing degradation was vast.
In the beginning it might have been easy enough to keep our wellbeing stable as everyone rallied in the novelty of being in a global pandemic. Two years on we find ourselves in a more “chronic state” of imbalanced wellbeing. We are growing tired of the new normal and the constant threat of going backwards.
This can create an undercurrent of uncertainty and impact our motivation to keep moving forward.
Wellbeing is now top of mind for us as individuals and enterprises. Anchoring a portion of our day in one of the five simple actions to improve wellbeing is an effective way to keep our body and mind in a state of homeostasis or harmony.
Persistent low wellbeing can lead to low moods that if become chronic can lead to possible mental disorders. If we find ourselves on the slippery slope downward we can become overly dependant on substances or other forms of escape. If you find yourself in this state share how you are feeling with friends and family. They are your support line and can help you source health professionals in your area.
The five simple actions to improve wellbeing general consists of these actions: Connecting, Being Active, Continuing to Learn, Taking Notice and Giving. Each of these requiring that we, as an individual, take action.
Action 1 requires more than sending a WhatsApp or commenting on a Linkedin or Instagram post. We can interact with people on these platforms, however we also need an exchange of energy in order for the connection to be meaningful. Connecting in-person activates each of the five senses. Making interactions richer and deeper as there is dimensional energy exchange. Video communications are much better than simple written or voice communications as these exchanges are single sense communications. Connecting with different groups can be enhanced when there is a deeper purpose to the connection, like volunteering. Volunteering is also an act of giving which instills a sense of purpose. The pandemic found many of us connecting with our family members on a deeper level and perhaps finding new ways to support neighbours and those in our wider community.
Humans need meaningful connection time.
Moving the body. This not only makes you stronger it relieves tension, helps release toxins from the body, boost your mental energy and enhances wellbeing through the release of endorphins. It is also know to improve body image and has a very positive impact on the ability to sleep.
Being active does not mean we all need to run 10kms or invest in fancy equipment. It can be as simple as a 15 minute yoga routine, taking daily brisk walks, following workouts on YouTube and using household items for weights, walking or riding your bike to work. The possibilities are endless. I am someone that likes to be active with others. That way I am connecting and being active at the same time. I also find I am more accountable when I have promised someone to meet them at a specific time to workout.
Having a accountability buddy works wonders.
Continuing to Learn
Learning can be a lot of fun and it does not need to be the pursuit of higher education. Learning how to cook new recipes, how to knit, to paint, to beat box, DIY projects, making jewellery. Even making Tik Tok videos requires learning new skills. There are so many things we can learn and the internet is ripe with courses and learning opportunites.
Enrolling in courses can give us a bit of structure and something to work towards. This builds a sense of purpose. It keeps us moving forward.
Paying attention to the present. Really noticing the people around you. Noticing the landscape in front of you. Each noticing with great detail, using your five senses. The active use of the five senses when you are doing daily tasks or chores is uplifting. It gives our mind a break from the constant chatter. I invite you to give your mind moments to reset through being laser focussed on your surrounds while you move about. Resetting has the effect of moving us out of the overly active sympathetic nervous system and into the relaxing space of the parasympathetic nervous system. This is critical for good physcial and mental health. It only takes two minutes of noticing, letting go of the chatter, to have a positive impact on wellbeing.
Take daily moments to activate your five senses with intention to reset the nervous system.
Taking notice is quite simple to do, as is giving. You can give of your time or talent or just practice giving kindness. Try making the conscious decision to make eyed contact with people you see during your commute and smile at them. You will be surprised how rewarding and uplifting this simple gesture can bring. Practicing giving by being empathetic to others in need and doing small acts of kindness for people you know, or do not know. Giving is very rewarding and it activates the reward centre of the brain. Our reward centre needs attention most days in order for us to feel satisfied and happy. The act of giving produces similar endorphins as does doing exercise.
Give a Smile: making the conscious decision to make eyed contact with people you see during your commute.. and give them a smile.
I invite each of you to take stock of your wellbeing through assessing which of these five ways to improve wellbeing you actively engage in on a dialy basis. When you have success with making small changes in your day and you feel your wellbeing improving, drop me a line. I would love to hear which of these five actions you found to have the most profound impact for you.
Balance on my Friends…