9 Ways to Live Well and Increase Wellbeing
In this busy ‘1st world’, it has become more important than ever before to treat ourselves with love and to prioritise self-care.
In this article, I delve into the ideas that make this difficult and the self-concepts that make us feel unworthy of self-prioritisation.
Both of these elements conspire to keep us in a state of near burnout, unable to manage our emotions and our fears, and perpetually bound to a superficial narrative of what it means to succeed.
How do we define success?
Selling our souls to have the newest car or the biggest mortgage?
Having the most followers or likes on our preferred social media platform?
Can we really feel satisfied with reaching these goals if we are lacking wellbeing?
Do we enjoy the moments of success and engage in the here and now, or are we always looking ahead, never quite connecting with the present and overlooking the small joys in life?
When I say “happiness”, what do you think of?
Happiness is a subjective notion, and yet we are all striving for it.
Me? I think inner peace.
For others, happiness might be linked to being a parent or walking by the sea – the detail isn’t relevant.
The point is that whilst happiness or success might be subjective, wellbeing seems to be universal and we cannot achieve happiness without wellbeing.
So how do we achieve wellbeing?
Health and Wellbeing Tips
Below are 9 ways to live well and increase wellbeing in your life:
Living with balance is crucial.
To slow down and to reflect on how we are feeling, to honour those feelings, to get to know ourselves, our fears and our joys.
What makes you feel good? Are you even aware?
So many of us were raised with the message that we should always put others first, not to “pamper” or “treat” ourselves, its justification hinging upon the notion that it’s self-indulgent.
Too often we take this too far and we’re running on empty and putting the needs of others so far ahead of our own that we could not possibly keep it up.
Or perhaps we have a demanding job or a boss that expects more than 9 to 5 plus weekends?
The needs of the business may not be aligned with your needs as a person.
You are not just a worker, you are a friend, father, brother, girlfriend, carer, runner, artist.
If our need for balance remains unmet, we may become like automatons, devoid of feeling, exhausted and depleted.
Worse, we may become resentful, anxious or low. The message?
Let’s treat ourselves like someone we love, ditch the guilt and create good boundaries for ourselves.
Our life balance should include elements such as work or study, people we love, friends, learning, psychological self-care, physical self-care, and hobbies, perhaps volunteering or spirituality.
Get out in nature – it increases our wellbeing!
The moments when we are being kind to ourselves and engaging in something that nourishes us ‘tool us up’ for the times when stressors abound.
Remember that removing stress entirely is never the goal as we operate better with manageable stress and it is part of our design.
We can achieve manageable stress through a balance of self-care and challenge which I talk more about below.
Related post: 5 Reasons Why Self-care Is A Necessity Not A Luxury
Words that generate good mental health:
When we create anything, we are fulfilling various human needs.
This starts with a very basic and primary need to build, construct or create.
Doing anything with your hands is really therapeutic, so think jigsaw puzzles, baking, cooking, building models, painting, pottery, etc.
Not only does it bring welcome relief from the stressors and problems but the act of creating is particularly rewarding and brings with it a great sense of achievement.
Sense of achievement is related to self-esteem, self-worth, etc.
Having a purpose is super-relevant in achieving wellbeing.
We all have values (some of us aren’t even aware of some of our values), but if we live with purpose we live with passion.
What makes you tick? What are you trying to achieve?
Striving for something, no matter how small will bring a sense of achievement and fulfilment.
Starting a new business? Running your first marathon? Creating awareness around climate change?
Our purpose may change throughout our lives but when it’s absent, we “coast” and when we coast we lose ourselves.
Find something to get out of bed for.
If you’re not sure what it is, try different things – think back to a time when you felt excited and motivated, before expectation and duty took over, what made you feel animated?
That’s a good place to begin.
Nowadays we accept that we have to challenge ourselves in order to grow, to develop.
We know this to be true at a muscular level – we have to stress and ‘tear’ our muscles for them to grow stronger and bigger.
We have to stress our hearts when we first start to run until we increase cardiovascular fitness and it becomes easier.
Science now shows this to be true at a cellular level, in that exposing our bodies to extreme cold for a while or moderate hunger (intermittent fasting for example) improves the function of our cells by keeping them vital, working harder.
From a mental health and wellbeing perspective, this is also true – we have to face our fears and challenges in order to grow.
If we are not challenging ourselves, we feel stuck, except that we are not staying still, we are growing older and this is when existential anxiety sets in.
So, challenge yourself and see how you develop. Prepare for the struggle but dust yourself off and keep going. Don’t stop.
Related post: How to Reduce Stress and Anxiety Tied to Money
I mentioned boundaries earlier but developing good boundaries is vital in order to protect ourselves.
There will always be takers, those that are prepared to exploit our weaknesses to their own advantage.
Unfortunately, these sorts of people also have a knack of sniffing out those that help them get their needs met.
Learn to say ‘no’.
There’s no need to be rude or offhand, but self-assured and confident communication goes a long way and ironically creates the respect and admiration that many seek.
A good sleep routine is essential.
Recent studies suggest that trying to function when sleep deprived is virtually impossible and impacts us in similar ways to being drunk!
From a mental health point of view when we are tired, we lack resilience.
We become irritable and argumentative and may lose perspective.
Go to sleep at the same time, make your room dark and comfortable, not too hot or cold.
Try journaling before you sleep as a way of ‘clearing out’ your mind clutter –
Create a to-do list and reflect on your thoughts and feelings from the day and recall what made you feel good or joyful.
I do not encourage extreme nutrition plans because as with all things I believe balance is key, but we do need to ensure that we are giving our bodies what they need some of the time.
Limiting sugars and caffeine which exacerbate anxiety is a good idea and ensuring that we fuel up properly with foods that energise us naturally.
If we feel sluggish and lethargic, then it’s hard to become motivated or engaged with much at all.
Mushrooms are a good example of foods that heal. They're an overlooked immune booster!
Spending time around people that nurture us, raise our energy and make us feel good is essential.
Seek these people out, spend time laughing – it will nourish you.
9. Negative Energy Detox
Limit your exposure to people with negative or limiting views.
Is someone saying you can’t? Can’t do, can’t be, can’t achieve?
If you’re spending time with someone like that, chances are you either already believe their words or you will believe them before too long and your circumstances will likely reflect that message.
Remember, just because someone says something, doesn’t make it true – create your own message for your life and spend time with people that encourage your ideas and your vision.
Story of Individual Wellbeing
(name changed to protect identity)
I worked with someone once who had been told all her life that she’d never amount to anything because she wasn’t clever.
She was also told that the world was such a frightening and hostile place that she’d be best off staying ‘safe’ and not ‘putting herself out there’.
Some of these messages were spoken and some were just learned – modelled through her parents’ behaviour.
Due to Hannah’s small and limited life, she could fulfill her parents’ needs of being cared for and waited on.
Meanwhile, Hannah had no sense of herself, no purpose and no joy.
Hannah’s parents had both died when we began to work together, and she was a nervous wreck.
She was terrified of trying anything, she was in a destructive relationship with someone who was just like her mother.
Hannah was unfulfilled and lost and believed this was going to be how she’d feel for the rest of her life. She was in crisis.
We worked together on restructuring her life and more importantly the messages she told herself like “I can’t do anything, I will fail” (her self-concept).
In time, Hannah created balance in her life.
She engaged with little things that she took joy from and challenged her partner’s negative words, whilst at the same time attempting to create new messages for herself and her future.
Bit by bit Hannah tried new things and took brave new steps and dared to create something different.
Fast forward three years and Hannah has a new life with a new partner a new and business which shows signs of great success.
Furthermore, she now has coping strategies and knowledge that will cushion and protect her throughout her life going forward.
Importantly, Hannah is able to recognise negativity and keeps her distance from that type of energy.
In fact, Hannah was able to create wellbeing for herself and the rest came easily.
What are the biggest challenges to your wellbeing at the moment? Which of the above wellbeing tips can you apply immediately?
I'm a psychotherapist, counsellor, cognitive behavioural therapist and coach working in private practice in the south of England.
I'm passionate about bringing what I've learned to people and helping to improve wellbeing and life with inner peace.
Head over to my blog at Wellbeing Hub for more tips and advice on managing mental health and increasing wellbeing and coping strategies.
Thank you for reading, Lara.
Do please share this post if you found it useful, and remember, in all things be thankful and Seek Joy.