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What is wellbeing?

People often think about wellbeing in terms of their physical condition and the impact that things like diet, exercise and sleep can have on their health.

 

However, experts agree that the term ‘wellbeing’ really covers a broader range of factors, including our emotional health, social connection, intellectual stimulation and quality of life.

 

We all have our own priorities and aspirations, so defining ‘wellbeing’ is actually a personal matter, and different aspects of wellbeing will be more important to some than others.

 

Mental health charity MIND describes ‘5 Ways to Wellbeing’ through the headings:

  • Connect

  • Be active

  • Take notice

  • Learn

  • Give.

 

You can read more about this here:

https://www.mind.org.uk/workplace/mental-health-at-work/taking-care-of-yourself/five-ways-to-wellbeing/

 
 

What is psychological wellbeing?

In its simplest form, psychological wellbeing refers to our mental state, and experiencing positive psychological wellbeing would include having feelings of pleasure, happiness and satisfaction with life, and an absence / lower levels of negative emotions such as pain, overwhelm, stress and anxiety.

 

However, psychologists agree that simply looking at one’s feelings of happiness or satisfaction does not tell the whole story, as they are feelings that, whilst important, may be transient and change from day to day, or indeed moment to moment. 

 

Experts tell us that there are two key elements to our psychological wellbeing:

 

Hedonic wellbeing describes the positive subjective emotions of happiness and satisfaction detailed above. 

           

and

 

Eudaimonic wellbeing describes a range of broader, longer term indicators, which can be broken down into six key elements[1]:

           

  • Self acceptance – having a positive attitude about yourself and your personality.

  • Environmental mastery – being able to manage the world around you effectively and create situations to your benefit.

  • Positive relations with others – having people around you that give you reciprocal empathy, intimacy and affection.

  • Personal growth – having the opportunity to learning new things, develop our knowledge and improve our behaviours.  

  • Purpose in life – having goals and a sense of meaning and direction in our life.

  • Autonomy – being able to exist independently from others, regulate our own behaviour, and enjoy independent thought and opinion.

 

[1] Ryff, C.D., Singer, B.H. and Love, G.D. (2004) Positive health: connecting wellbeing with biology. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, 359, 1383-1394

 

What is employee wellbeing and why is it important?

Employee wellbeing describes the general physical and emotional condition of people in the workplace.  It is also a phrase used to describe the strategic plans and practical steps that an organisation can take to ensure high levels of physical and psychological health at work.

 

People spend a large proportion of their time at work, so it makes sense that that work will have a big impact on their personal wellbeing.

 

In addition to the obvious ethical reasons for promoting and supporting good employee wellbeing, there is a large body of research evidence that shows that it is very important in terms of business performance. 

 

People who have high levels of wellbeing in the workplace, have been shown to be more satisfied, motivated, engaged and committed at work.  Such outcomes have been proven to reduce absence from work, and increase productivity, retention and attraction of new recruits.

 

The World Health Organisation describes 5 major areas which impact on employee health and wellbeing in the workplace.

  1. Physical work environment (e.g. equipment, light, temperature, hazards)

  2. Psychosocial work environment (e.g. management practices and organisational culture)

  3. Leadership, ethics and values

  4. Personal health resources (e.g. support and promotion of healthy lifestyles)

  5. Community involvement

 

You can read more about this here:

 

https://www.who.int/occupational_health/healthy_workplaces/en/

What is resilience?

Most psychologists agree that the definition of resilience concerns a person’s ability to adapt to and ‘bounce back’ from adversity in life e.g. trauma, crisis or serious episodes of stress. 

 

It important to note that through this ‘bounce back’ mechanism, people develop their coping strategies and experience personal growth, making them stronger and more able to deal with challenges in the future.

           

A really positive part of the message is that resilience is not pre-defined and static.  As the American Psychological Association puts it:

 

“Resilience is not a trait that people either have or do not have. It involves behaviours, thoughts and actions that can be learned and developed in anyone.”

 

Research evidence has shown that there are a number of key factors that predict our personal resilience, and when we understand these, we can work to develop them in ourselves.  They include:

  1. A strong sense of meaning/purpose in life

  2. A positive personal mindset

  3. Supportive social networks

  4. Problem management strategies

  5. Dealing with emotions

 

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