The two things people need to do
Wellbeing is the state of being comfortable, happy or healthy; why on earth should we choose to be in an uncomfortable, unhappy or unhealthy state? Yet we frequently do. And the most common reason for not doing something for our wellbeing is:
I don’t have time.
If they’re pressed, most people admit that they just don’t prioritise themselves. They come bottom of the list. It’s for this reason, many people, especially parents, find themselves staying up later than they would ideally like, just to have time to themselves away from chores and the demands of other people.
This staying up late has an obvious impact on our wellbeing. A reduction in sleep of just a few hours a night can have profound health consequences, such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and hypertension. Sleep deprivation may decrease the ability to resist infection which is why people who average less than 7 hours sleep per night are about 3 times more likely to develop cold symptoms when exposed to the virus. As well as these impacts on our physical wellbeing, there is an emotional and mental impact with studies suggesting a link between poor sleep and anxiety and depression.
Not prioritising our own wellbeing and being the person that does everything for everyone else, can lead to feelings of resentment, which undermines our relationships with others. It’s very easy to get into a pattern of behaviour where you are responsible for certain things within the home and begin to feel like it is your sole responsibility to keep things running. As well as the physical load of house keeping, there is the mental load of keeping tab of what is being done and what needs doing. (Often exacerbated by a partner asking ‘what can I do to help?’ as if they don’t also live there!)
Often, clients admit that when they have a spare hour, they don’t know what to do with it and look for some other work to do. If an appointment unexpectedly cancels, how many people choose to use that time to do something to enhance their wellbeing versus getting on with more work or mindlessly consuming social media?
The first thing you can do to enhance your wellbeing is:
1. Prioritise it. Schedule time just for you.
One of the reasons that we do this is because we have not worked out what is best for our wellbeing. If you don’t know what really contributes to your state of feeling comfortable, happy or healthy, then when you have some time free up, you just don’t know what to do with it.
And that’s a vicious circle because if you don’t know what’s best for your wellbeing, you’re definitely not going to schedule it. We’re creatures of habit and if we generally work, take care of others, our house, car, garden, etc before we look after ourselves, that’s what we’ll continue to do. Take some time thinking about
So the second thing to enhance your wellbeing is:
2. Work out what works for you.
Wellbeing isn’t just about cosy drinks and fluffy socks. It could be becoming better connected with your community by volunteering once a month. It could be speaking to old friends on the phone. What about going for a walk, learning something new, meditating? It’s very easy to look at wellbeing as solely to do with physical or mental, but there are also other dimensions of wellbeing such as intellectual, spiritual, environmental and social that we can tap into. Choose one thing you can do this weekend that is good for one aspect of your wellbeing and do it.
We can choose to look after our wellbeing or we can choose to put it to the bottom of the list. But if you don’t prioritise your own wellbeing, then you can’t expect anyone else to.