The Global Wellness Institute has pegged the wellness industry as a USD 4.5 trillion industry in 2020. With over 10,000 mental health apps on wellbeing, marketers are selling from wellness tourism to wellness architecture and design, from wellness lifestyle real estate to emotional, financial, and sexual wellness. Wellbeing is defined as, ‘the state of being comfortable, healthy, or happy’. It is required to increase one’s coping ability, improve self-esteem, better productivity at work, and improve overall longevity. Emotional wellbeing is influenced by a variety of demographic, economic, and situational factors. The COVID-19 outbreak has led to a 74% decrease in emotional wellbeing. This alarming statistic reflects the uncertainty in our minds with everything going on around us. In 2020, the global economic downturn, coronavirus lockdown, job losses, and added natural disasters have started to impact people’s state of wellbeing.
In a country like New Zealand, the importance of one’s wellbeing has been recognized and become so significant, that the government of New Zealand delivered it’s first ever ‘Wellbeing Budget’ in May 2019. Their Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern while addressing a press conference in Wellington, stated that this budget would focus on social issues like wellbeing, mental health, homelessness, and child poverty.
Is health and wellbeing different?
Though often confused, health and wellbeing are different but like two sides of a coin that go hand-in-hand.
Health: Health According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), “Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”
Wellness: Wellness is described as, the “active process of becoming aware of and making choices toward a healthy and fulfilling life. It is a dynamic process of change and growth.”
Essentially, health is the goal and wellness the means or process to achieve that goal.
Employee wellbeing at workplace
On one hand, large corporations like Google, Accenture, Micrsoft, SaS, and Nike had started to implement Corporate Wellness programs for their workforce. These programs included meditation workshops, yoga classes, and inculcating healthy food habits to manage work stress. But with the work from home, wellbeing has gone down on priority. While corporate wellbeing taught minor and simple lifestyle changes to increase productivity and reduce absenteeism at office, the work from home scenario should not be neglecting wellbeing. Today more than ever we need to be aware of wellbeing and how it can increase our coping ability with everything around.
Why is health and wellbeing important to a child?
The importance of wellbeing in children has become a subject of great concern. It is also being taught in schools, as children with emotional wellbeing grow up to be adults with an overall healthy lifestyle. With approximately 10-12% of children and youth already suffering from mental health conditions like anxiety disorders, disruptive behavior disorders, eating disorders, mood disorders, schizophrenia and ADHD, the numbers may increase with schools being closed for over 6 months now. Today with over 1.2 billion children from 186 countries staying out of school it is important that teachers who are teaching online do not undermine the wellbeing curriculum and parents at home pay as much attention. Coping with 2020 has become the most challenging task.
Can the theory of wellbeing be taught early in life?
Wellbeing is a positive state of mind and can surely be taught early in life. Some of which includes –
1. Indoctrinating positive relationships: Children see and learn things rather quickly. It is of extreme importance that young minds are connected by the feeling of love and security within the family and in school where they spend most of their formative years. When the family thread that binds everyone together is weak, a child goes through emotional disturbance not exactly able to comprehend the situation. In such cases, teachers and others in the family need to recognize any behavioral changes in the child and help to foster wellbeing. Since good relationships are vital to our health and happiness, children must be introduced to various healthy and happy relationships.
2. Coping with disappointment: In the modern day rat race, right from school, we learn to be competitive. Success and failures are judged early in the day. Thereby, from early age, we must be taught to accept both success and failure as two sides of a coin. Failure can be due to uncontrollable external forces How to cope with failure, withstand the consequences and learn from it needs to be taught early in life. Today, the increasing number of youth suicides is because they are unable to handle failure.
3. Positive body image: With social media one’s outward appearances have taken precedence over the real character. It has started to affect how people view themselves. Today, an overweight kid, a socio-economic backward child, a colored child, just a slow learner may feel depressed if bullied or even just ignored on social media. Often they feel angry at not getting enough likes and shares online and ultimately resort to alienating themselves from real friends and family. Let us teach children, whether dark or fair, thin or fat, pretty or plain to be happy with their appearances since they are made up of a lot more than merely social media acceptance.
4. Live in the moment:
Sometimes the past influences our present. Sometimes we fear the future? Why? Unhappiness arises from not be able to enjoy the here and now. If we keep focusing on some negative occurrences of the past, the mind feels unhappy. Often thinking of the past, clouds our future. The most important thing wellbeing teaches us to be mindful, notice the present, let go of the past, and not worry too much about the future.
Communication is the key to wellbeing. Able to discuss and share anxiety, fears, eating disorders, disturbed sleep, or poor concentration issues with a teacher, parent, friend, and counselor is extremely important. Never bottle up these feelings as they will only lead to unhappiness. We need to teach children to discuss anything that makes them uncomfortable. A teacher or parent can communicate with empathy to foster wellbeing.
6. Active, creative, playful
Children must be able to lead a life where they are physically, creatively and playfully active. That’s childhood.
Ways to improve wellbeing
This is the most common question asked today by people stuck indoors. On the other side, wellbeing of essential workers who are stepping out of home is also extremely important. Wellbeing fosters a positive attitude despite of everything going around. Here are a few things to do to boost your wellness quotient:
Improve physical wellbeing
- Don’t forget to include a few minutes of stress-buster exercises in your daily routine
- Eat a well-balanced diet to increase your immunity against coronavirus
- Prioritize sleep. Too much of work from home, Netflix is affecting circadian sleep.
- Avoid alcohol consumption and other like substances
Improve mental or emotional wellbeing
- Work productively and not excessively
- Try and cope with normal stresses of daily life in the present situation.
- Continue to remain in touch with family, friends and community even if it is online.
- Realize your full potential and even learn a new skill that will motivate you.
Improve social wellbeing
- Volunteer to mentor online
- Join a group of likeminded persons online where people discuss common interests
Improve financial wellbeing
- Speak to a financial expert and recheck your investments are spread out
- Check for any government benefits you may be eligible for during this pandemic
- Get into a savings mode and spend only on necessities till we move out of the downturn.
Wellbeing is a state of mind. In today’s complex life, wellness and wellbeing are crucial. Once you focus on overall wellbeing, it can improve your health and happiness. Today, New Zealand has taken the first step in recognizing the importance of wellbeing and other countries must follow. With the lesson learned in 2020, wellbeing must be prioritized to address both mental and physical health.
Embracing wellbeing may be hard work but the lesson learned is worth its weight in gold. Let’s work towards a holistic life.