Wellbeing – is it something to be aware of?
Wellbeing is a term that is being used more and more. The Health and Social Care bill has prompted the setting up of Health and Wellbeing Boards by local councils, which means your local Council should be starting to care about your wellbeing! Sounds amazing but what exactly is wellbeing? Where does it fit in to our lives?
At a recent conference I heard a fabulous definition of life which I want to share with you – “Life is a chronic condition which is sexually transmitted and universally fatal. It is still mostly self-managed in a domiciliary setting with a small proportion of time in hospital.”(1)
Life is to be praised and should therefore be extended as long as possible shouldn’t it? The problem is that life for the average person is good for the large proportion of the time and then goes downhill, with the last 11 years of a female’s life and last 9 years of a male’s life tending to involve life limiting conditions. Generally, current thinking is to attempt to extend life even if the quality of life is poor, while the ideal would in fact be to extend the years where the quality of life is high rather than to extend life for the sake of it. Perhaps the aim should be to have a better life rather than simply a longer one. This is where the concept of wellbeing comes into play.
‘Wellbeing: The state of being or doing well in life’Oxford English dictionary
Whereas Dictionary.com goes further:
‘well-be·ing: a good or satisfactory condition of existence; a state characterized by health, happiness and prosperity.’
This is a more inclusive definition and takes into account the element of having enough money to live. The World health organisation includes wellbeing firmly into their definition of health.
‘Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.’
The same speaker gave a definition that they had produced at a Health and Wellbeing Board (Croydon) to fully encompass wellbeing:
- · The absence of disease and infirmity
- · ‘Being all you can be’
- · Being resilient or having ‘bounce-back ability’
- · Making a contribution- helping others benefits your own health and wellbeing
In terms of health and social care legislation this means that the remit of the Government has been extended from putting you back together again when you are unwell, to actually having to care about all aspects of your life that makes you healthy both physically and mentally – your biopsychosocial wellbeing to be precise. From the elements you can’t change like your age, gender or genetics, to those that can be changed – your lifestyle, your support networks and the greater environmental and the whole socioeconomic picture. This means that the health service and the social care service will be expected to be working together in tandem for the good of the individual.
If the Government is so concerned about our wellbeing, then it naturally follows that we too should be concerned about our own wellbeing. It is worth thinking about what makes you ‘all that you can be’. If you are someone that gets stressed for example then for your own wellbeing you should try to find something that releases that stress – or perhaps prevents its build up. For some this would be a walk in the park with the children or the dog while for others a tension relieving kick boxing class would fit the bill. Doing things that are good for your wellbeing will benefit all aspects of your life, less stress for example will equal better relationships, better sleep and improved mood and who couldn’t benefit from these?
Complementary therapies are known for promoting relaxation and wellbeing.–Reflexology is a gentle, non-intrusive complementary therapy that encourages the body to work naturally to restore and maintain its own healthy balance. A reflexologist works on points on the feet or hands, but it may also be performed on the ears and face. To find out what a reflexologist is feeling for in your feet visit the interactive foot map at http://www.aor.org.uk/custom/footmap/The most clothing that will have to be removed are your socks so it is easy to receive.
Most will find that reflexology results in relaxation and a relief of tension, also sleep is often improved. These changes in turn can translate to improved mood and sense of wellbeing!
Finding a good reflexologist is not always an easy process the Association of Reflexologists helps – all its members are properly trained, qualified and insured. There is a ‘find a reflexologist’ search by postcode available on the AoR website at www.aor.org.uk.
At the end of the day, it is important to recognise that you can help improve your own wellbeing by finding a solution that works for you. If you have no idea what this might be, start with a checklist to identify your weaknesses and set yourself some simple goals and identify some actions that might just help you improve your own wellbeing over a period of time. Remember to try a few different things and see what effect they have. After all you will never know what something is really like until you just do it!
(1)Peter Brambleby: Commissioning show 2012
Tracey Smith FMAR BSc Hons
Reflexology Support Manager
Association of Reflexologists
Tel: 01823 364952
Fax: 01823 336646