Key to achieving an advanced state of psychological (mental and emotional) wellbeing is getting the balance right as to where you direct and invest your energies in terms of the wellbeing in other aspects of your life.
If we look at the wisdom shared by others (see the Sharing Wisdom section for some examples), there is a strong correlation and connection between your psychological wellbeing (feeling positive, able to cope, functional and balanced), and wellbeing in other areas of your life such as:
- Your physical wellbeing – your physical health, your levels of physical fitness, your diet and lifestyle, your use of substances and your physical appearance.
- Your relational wellbeing – the quantity and quality of the relationships you have with others in our lives such as friends, partners, children, family, peers and colleagues.
- Your vocational wellbeing – your engaging in and/or pursing a course of study, training, apprenticeship or work that stimulates you, utilises your talent and potential, challenges you and fairly rewards you for your efforts.
- Your recreational wellbeing – your engaging in and/or pursuing either alone and/or with others in passions, hobbies, interests, pastimes and activities that entertain, stimulate and relax you and bring a sense of fun and joy into your life.
This interconnectedness between these various aspects of your wellbeing and the significance of the interaction between them and the impact of any one part on the others can be thought of as your overall holistic wellbeing.
Anybody will only have so much time, energy and resource to call on to invest in their overall wellbeing and due to circumstance, need or habit, that investment can become skewed towards one or two areas (often to the detriment of others).
The concept of your holistic wellbeing refers to the principle of you as a whole person across the multiple dimensions of your experiencing that collectively make up your life narrative.
These various dimensions (psychological, physical, relational, vocational and recreational wellbeing), are intrinsically connected and inter-dependant on each other. Unrest in any one can provoke unrest in the others, and strengthening wellbeing in any one will have a positive impact on the others.
Sometimes it will be a necessary choice to prioritise and direct the bulk of your energies towards advancing one or two areas of your wellbeing (e.g. prioritising your relational wellbeing as you prepare to get married, or prioritising your vocational wellbeing if you start a new job).
This is ok for a short period of time providing it is your choice and overall in the long run it will enhance your life. If it continues indefinitely, you risk damaging your wellbeing elsewhere which could lead to feelings of unhappiness, pressure and stress, or a more general sense of dissatisfaction and lack of fulfilment in your life.
It can be an unwise strategy psychologically speaking to put all your eggs in one basket (as the saying goes), by focusing on building your sense of self-esteem (how you value and perceive yourself), by over-emphasising success and achievement in only one or two areas of wellbeing.
Say for example you spend all your time, efforts and resources on your physical fitness to feel confident among your peers, what happens if you sustain an injury and cannot train, or if you build your sense of self-worth on your vocational standing and then lose your job?
Focusing on advancing you holistic wellbeing will not only give you balance, it will also help protect your overall levels of positive self-esteem. Should you suffer a setback in one area, it is easier to deal with and the impact will be minimised if we feel we are still doing well in all other aspects of our wellbeing.
So what are the benefits of investing in getting the balance right?
If you feel physically fit and well, have strong positive relationships in your life, are pursuing your chosen career goal (and feel like you are making progress towards it), and are actively enjoying pastimes and interests that bring fun, relaxation and joy into your life, you life will feel balanced and fulfilled which in turn help you will feel more mentally and emotionally strong, with increased levels of psychological stamina and resilience too.
- Psychology Today reports that having positive relationships helps people foster a sense of purpose and deal better with adversity.
- The Royal College of Psychiatrists reports that exercise is not only good for your physical health, it is highly beneficial for your mental health too.
- A recent article in The Guardian reports that physical fitness leads to improved brain functioning which can help you to excel in your professional life.
- The Men’s Journal website tells us that men who are married are healthier and tend to live longer than their single counterparts.
- The Men’s Health website tells us that doing exercise can also boost your sense of feeling confident and capable.
is it time to self-audit?
In terms of your psychological, physical, relational, vocational and recreational wellbeing, do you know what proportion of your finite time, energy and resources you are dedicating to each, and are there some you are over-emphasising or neglecting?
Getting the balance right in your life starts with doing a self-audit of how and where you dedicate your efforts to gain insight about your patterns and habits.
This awareness can then be used to help guide you to seeking out knowledge and guidance that will develop your wisdom on how to enhance your wellbeing in all areas.
That very naturally leads you to a tangible plan that will guide the supported actions you take to unlock your full potential across your physical, relational, vocational, recreational and psychological wellbeing.