Well-being: Finding Your Way of Well-being
With so much out of our own hands at the moment, every day is throwing a test of some sort. Whether that be juggling home-schooling with a working day, training without any clear competition focuses, or just getting on with the day knowing the four walls of your house are likely to be one of the only places you will see today, that is of course, unless you have your scheduled weekly shopping outing. The general daily rhetoric on the news, twitter, and other social media platforms, describes how our resilience is being tested. This is a shared experience which transcends ages, cultures, genders, professions, the list goes on. Despite this, we also know that challenge does present the opportunity to build resilience, so through these challenges, our resilience is developing, we are having key learnings and there are things we can take away from these experiences.
What makes humans so fascinating is the unique differences between each and everyone one of us. The nuances that allow us to shine bright, the quirky intricacies which makes us intrigued by a person we meet for the first time. With this in mind, we will all experience this time in a slightly different way, what is a challenge and a major stressor for one individual, may not be cognitively appraised as a stressor for another. Equally, how one individual best copes with these stressors, will be different to how another individual chooses to work through these challenges. Within sport there are key psychological factors which can protect athletes from the negative effects of stressful experiences, supporting them through the challenge. These factors are ever more relevant for us today, but the key is to spend time understanding and discovering which of these factors is the most valuable and supportive for you. In doing so, we help build our resilience through this incredibly challenging period of time, coming out of it with insight we may not have had before and preparing us for times ahead where we can draw on these skills and resources. Consider some of the factors below which may work for you.
- Reflect and Regulate
Overall, there is not a lot to be positive about during a global pandemic, however, building resilience is not about just being positive. Even paying attention to the smallest of events can be a buffer for the negative psychological effects of stressors. The notions of compassion and gratitude journaling have received increasing attention over the last 12 months and has been found influential in our response to situations. Try reflecting on your day including one thing which went well, one thing you could have done better, and one thing you would like to incorporate into your day tomorrow. Be honest about your feelings, and remember, building resilience is not about suppressing emotions or thoughts, it is about recognising there are alternative ways to think about a situation and managing those emotions which do arise.
Day to day, hour to hour, our motivation will fluctuate. Be sensitive to these changes and begin to recognise the different types of motivators which keep you going. For example, are they internal, coming from an inner drive? Or are the external, from outer pressures? Regard your decisions in your day as active choices, moving you one step forward, as opposed to sacrifices holding you back.
Focus on what you can control and park that which you cannot. Try drawing two circles on a piece of paper. In the middle circle, write everything you can control in here. That may include your bedtime, your nutrition, your exercise, turning off the news. In the outer circle, write what you cannot control. That may include other people’s behaviour, predictions about what may happen, when you may receive the vaccine. On looking at these two circles in front of you, pause to think about where you focus your energy. Where do you direct your attention, your thoughts, and your actions? Are they on the inner circles, those elements which you can control, or are they on the outer circle, on those which, ultimately, you have no influence over?
- Social support
When we think about support from others, how we go about that today is very different to how we used to seek support. We have had to explore new ways of connecting with loved ones, family, and friends. Nonetheless, this does not stop us from recognising and knowing who we can go to for what type of support. Consider who you reach out to when you are feeling emotional, when you need guidance, when you are in need of a confidence boost or a physical helping hand.
Which one of these four areas do you connect with the most? Upon spending time to discover which is most valuable for you, begin to incorporate it more often into your day. We are bombarded with ideas for self-care and well-being, so in an effort to remain focused on what really works, spend a short time discovering what you find most valuable, pay attention, and repeat.
- COVID-19 has brought with it a new perspective on how we view our mental and physical well-being. In giving us space to consider what really matters to us as well as encouraging employers to re-visit corporate wellness initiatives, we’re seeing a shift in both what we need from wellness programmes and how these are developed. If you were to name three ‘go to’ activities which give you energy and sparkle, both physically and mentally, what would they be? How does your employer consider your mental and physical well-being in the new digitalised workplace? Take some time to recognise how you can best spend your down time to re-charge your batteries and fuel your next endeavour!
- With the increase in home-based digitalisation of our work, blurred lines between home life and work life boundaries, increased expectations, and immediate accessibility, there are calls for different approaches to considering well-being and managing our work and home life balance. We often see a drive for the attainment of a work-life balance, wanting to strike the perfect dynamic between our home and office. Rather than viewing this as something we achieve, a healthy approach to viewing this may be as a cyclical, evolving process in which we refine, adapt, and tweak based upon the appraisal of what we have going on. This dynamic between our work and our life will fluctuate, there will be pinch points for work related projects, there will be busier times with our family and friends. In recognising this relationship between how we strive for this constant balance in a reality which fluctuates, we can increase our awareness of when to tune up our attention on our home life, when to tune down our work life, and vice versa.