Wellbeing is an ecosystem

 In Opinion

The dictionary defines wellness as “the quality or state of being in good health especially as an actively sought goal”.

This is a very succinct and action-oriented definition, but what does good health actually mean? Many wellness practitioners (myself included) would say good health encapsulates the physical, mental, emotional, social, spiritual, and environmental aspects of being human. For example, on the physical plane what you chose to eat and how you move your body will directly impact your health. On the social level, the moral quality of your friends and whether you participate in your community will influence your sense of wellbeing.

Unique to the wellness field is an acknowledgment of the interconnectedness of the physical, mental, emotional, social, spiritual, and environmental aspects on each other. In fact we could say that wellbeing is really an ecosystem. Let me explain. On the mental level, the thoughts you think (the world is a safe place); will impact the way you feel (content); which will modify the level to which you interact in your community (fully). If your thoughts are fearful and you believe the world is a scary place you will most likely feel anxious and won’t participate fully in your community. In addition, if on a physical level you drink excessive amounts of caffeine and you feel jittery or anxious this will also influence your emotional state. I could keep going, but hopefully you see how we are constantly influencing our own wellbeing with our thoughts, feelings, choices, and beliefs; and we are influenced by other’s choices, thoughts, beliefs as well as the micro (your home, community) and macro (your country) environments in which we live.

I used to find this all interconnectedness a little overwhelming – queue the anxious thoughts, feelings, and emotional eating! How on earth do we find wellbeing when there’s so much impacting us on a daily basis? For me, the answer involved taking a long, hard look at my thoughts, beliefs and perceptions. I was lucky to find an impactful quote by Jon Kabat-Zinn that said, “You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.” Life will bring challenges that you can’t change (the waves) but you get to chose how you respond to them (learning to surf).

Recently our beloved dog contracted pneumonia. She was very sick and my mind started to think fearful thoughts that impacted my sleep and resulted in feeling grumpy and anxious. Realizing I couldn’t change the fact that she was sick, I focused on getting her to the vet and altering my mental outlook. Instead of focusing on the “what ifs” driven by fear, I chose to see her healthy and well. Did my mental outlook change the outcome for the dog? Maybe not, but it definitely helped me. I stopped feeling anxiousand slept much better. In the end the prescribed antibiotics worked wonders for our pooch and I got to practice surfing.

Nicole Hambleton is a wellness coach, meditation, and energy medicine practitioner living in Mulmur. Follow her on Instagram @ purpletentwellness.

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