I don’t know about you, but I think wellbeing has an image problem!

All too often wellbeing is an aspirational, albeit elusive goal that is surrounded by hype and exclusivity.  Women look at the amazing lives that wellbeing influencers and those on social media live and they feel envious. Then it starts a downward spiral of unhealthy comparison.  They try the strategies that these women swear by, but they take a lot of work which makes them feel overwhelmed and even more exhausted. Or after trying all the suggested strategies and spending lots of money on the recommended products they don’t feel any different.

Women often tell me this makes them feel like a failure and leads to them questioning what is wrong with them as everyone else on so and so’s Facebook group or Instagram page raves about how good they feel.

The simple life 

My take on wellbeing is to do what feels good for you and simpler is often better.  I was driving down the highway today on my way to an appointment, then it happened. All of a sudden I saw the deep blue of the Indian ocean, the white and grey of the beach sands, and the green hues of the coastal dunes. Then it hit me, that unmistakable smell of salt air.  I was immediately transported to carefree days soaking up the sun, carelessly lazing away the day, transfixed by the serenity of the water. To me, the beach is calming and energising at the same time. The water, sun and sand can soothe and restore as well as invigorate.  The beach also offers an opportunity to explore and discover as all sorts of interesting things that are washed up from the sea.  I immediately felt calm and was reminded of many carefree days spent at the beach.  I can feel it again now as I’m writing this blog.  Driving past the beach, just being present in that moment and savouring all the pleasant things about it, added such a boost to my day.

What I’ve learnt is that wellbeing is not about green smoothies,  superfoods, yoga, self-affirmations, salt lamps, aromatherapy oils, breath meditations, living a minimalist lifestyle or frolicking on deserted beaches. That’s’ not to say that these strategies aren’t helpful or that they can’t improve wellbeing. It’s about whether they are done for the right reasons and whether they suit you and your lifestyle.

Pathways to wellbeing 

To get to the heart and soul of wellbeing  I want to introduce you to the PERMAH framework, one of the most popular models of wellbeing in Positive Psychology. This is my wellbeing go to as it’s simple and good research supports it.

PERMAH  is simply a way of being or a way of living that leads to improved wellbeing, and based on this model there are 6 pathways.

Positive emotion – Experiencing a  range of positive emotions, and knowing how to cope with the negative ones so they don’t take over your life

Engagement  – Being interested and deeply involved in what you do

Relationships – Having strong social connections and healthy relationships

Meaning – Contributing to something greater than you and feeling that what you do is worthwhile and valued,

Achievement – Having goals to strive for  and feeling a sense of accomplishment when you reach them

Health – Feeling healthy and vibrant through eating well, exercising, sleeping and being able to relax

This is such a flexible way to think about wellbeing, nothing prescriptive here. You choose the pathway or pathways that you need to work on.   For some, it might be about balance, while for others it might be strengthing one or two pathways.  Then its about choosing wellbeing strategies that are right for you.  As with anything, a strategy may not be a good fit for your lifestyle or your personal preferences, we can also outgrow strategies or become bored with them. This is why a lot of trending wellbeing strategies fail to deliver the goods.

Positive Psychology has developed many activities and practices to boost these pathways.   Take my driving past the beach and the benefits I received from this. My positive emotions pathway was boosted by the fact that I savoured what the beach means to me and immersed myself in this pleasant experience. Sharing my experience here, added to the feel good factor.  How simple is that! All I had to do was I pay attention and appreciate the positive.

I hope this helps you feel better about wellbeing.

If you would like to know more about your wellbeing and which pathways need some TLC, email me at hello@thewellebingpsychologist.com.au to book a wellbeing assessment.