The definition of wellbeing is given as ‘The state of being comfortable, healthy, or happy’. The synonyms associated with it are ‘Welfare, Health, Good Health, Happiness, Comfort, Security, Safety, Protection, Prosperity, Profit, Success, Good Fortune and Advantage.
From this we can see that wellbeing encompasses more than simply exercising and eating a balanced diet. Wellbeing also includes good mental health, a sense of security, friendship, some financial security and contentment with your lot in life.
So wellbeing is no longer limited to a healthy body; today’s vision is more holistic.
Indeed, emotional health is now on par with physical health as more and more people find life satisfaction and a greater sense of purpose in the balance of mind, body and spirit.
Nic Marks of the New Economics Foundation says, “Well Being is not only about the individual but also about values grounded in a broader, shared understanding of how the world is and should be.”
Over the last 50 years, the population of Great Britain has become richer - but despite this, evidence shows that mental wellbeing has not improved.
Many of the things people often aspire to and believe will improve their mental wellbeing - such as possessions or more money for luxury holidays - on their own, do not lead to a lasting improvement in the way they feel about themselves and their lives.
Stills and video that convey not only physical fitness but also communicate a healthy mind, a positive approach to life, mindfulness, tranquility and a sense of being at one with your surroundings are popular. These images have many uses in marketing too, communicating key concepts around Health, Wellness, Escapism, Freedom, Getting Away from it all, Tranquility, Care, Fitness and Purity.
Being aware ofthe present – to your own thoughts and feelings right now, and to the world around you – can improve your mental wellbeing. This is particularly difficult to achieve, however in our tech-driven world, where a moment doesn’t pass, it seems, without us reaching to check our smartphones; our attention directed to a screen, rather than the world around us.
Mindfulness is recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) as a way to prevent depression.
Richard Davidson, one of the early pioneers, scholars and teachers of mindfulness in the US believes that working with kids and teaching them about mindfulness early on as part of their education is going to be really important. He explains, “Teaching kids these kinds of skills early in life can have multiplicative effects as the kids develop. Being able to practice these skills at a very early age can set a child up for a much more positive developmental trajectory.”
This mental wellbeing, self-esteem and self-confidence are very important to young people, along with good relationships, and a positive engagement with the world. As Sarah Stewart-Brown, professor of public health at the University of Warwick says, ”It's useful to start with the idea that overall wellbeing involves both the mind and the body. And we know that physical and mental wellbeing are closely related."
Nutrition is another very topical piece in the jigsaw of our overall wellbeing. This includes not only our health but the health of the planet too. The provenance of our food is very important nowadays. How the food was produced, where it’s from and whether it is sustainable are questions that are not going away any time soon. Take for instance beef and its impact on our health as well as the impact of its production on the environment. The demand for beef worldwide is resulting in the destruction of a delicate ecological balance on earth – and this is now a big problem that needs reversing.
The knock on effect is that more and more people are choosing plant-based diets and among young people in particular, there is an increase in veganism.
The benefits of a plant-based diet are many and varied as such foods are rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. This can result in a decrease in both blood pressure and in low-density lipoproteins (bad cholesterol) that in turn reduce the risk of diabetes and help maintain a healthy weight. All of these can result in lessening the chances of heart disease.
However, obesity is a huge global problem that is steadily increasing. In the USA, for example, obesity affects 78% of Hispanics, 76% of Blacks and around 66% of Whites over the age of 20. For the under 20’s the figure is 31%.
This is down to an imbalanced diet coupled with inactivity and a sedentary lifestyle where work (and leisure) involves sitting for hours on end looking at a screen. 60% of Americans don’t get the recommended amount of physical activity and 25% of those adults aren’t active at all.
In light of the rise in obesity amongst youngsters, a wellness movement called Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta launched a campaign they called ‘Strong4Life’, which makes improving family nutrition and physical activity habits fun and engaging. It also provides parents and caregivers the support they need to accomplish their goals.
Gretchen Reynolds of The New York Times says of physical activity, “You get prolonged life, reduced disease risk — all of those things come in in the first 20 minutes of being active. This is all that’s needed to reach the level where happiness and productivity in every day life peaks.”
Top concepts associated with stills and motion showing a physically active lifestyle are Competition, Speed, Fun, Vitality, Adventure, Strength, Success, Skill, Determination and Effort.
People are equating happiness with good health more than ever, as good physical and emotional health allows us to do the things in life that we’d like to do. This is the motivation to keep minds and bodies healthy
In a study of more than 10,000 participants from 48 countries, psychologists, Ed Diener of the University of Illinois and Shigehiro Oishi of the University of Virginia found that worldwide, people rate happiness as being more important than any other life outcome - including living a life with meaning, become rich, and getting into heaven!