In my health promotion days, I worked with student health teams, using Te Whare Tapa Whā to explore the four dimensions of health. We considered how, when one or more walls were out of order, our house (i.e. our health) was less strong. It couldn’t hold us up so well.
In a similar way, I’ve been pondering the idea that we each have a pyramid of wellbeing. It’s made up of building blocks: individual actions, practices and beliefs that combined, give us our own unique foundation of wellbeing.
Wellbeing: the state of being comfortable, healthy, or happy.
Feeling out of kilter is a trigger to check in with ourselves: which of the building blocks have fallen by the wayside? What do we need to attend to, to return to balance?
Having a sense of wellbeing – feeling good from the inside out – is more in our control than we realise. You just need to know what your building blocks are. This might sound incredibly simple, and obvious. But when is the last time you really checked in with yourself? When is the last time you made a conscious decision to prioritise your own wellbeing?
Shortly after I had a car accident (aka wakeup call) a few years back, I realised I couldn’t hold onto my sanity at the pace I was going. Work trumped all: time with friends and family, my health, relationships, exercise… I was running on coffee and adrenalin, and the relentless pursuit of getting on top of my emails. I’d stay up late often, tackling projects I perceived as more important than rest. And every day, repeat. In truth, ‘chasing busy’ all the time was a distraction. It meant I could avoid the spaces in my life I didn’t want to face.
Wellbeing, to me, meant re-learning the basics. What actions, practices and beliefs supported me to feel good in my mind and body?
It meant learning to notice what a sense of balance felt like, and how that compared to its opposite – stress.
In the pyramid below are some of my building blocks. The bottom layer shows the absolute essentials. When I’m feeling out of sorts – which might show up as being overly stressed, tired, grumpy or down for no particular reason, chances are I’m not getting enough sleep – or I haven’t got any exercise lately, or I haven’t checked in with my peeps.
The next layers up are some nice to haves – I need these in my life to feel good, but they don’t have to happen every week. They give me an extra boost, and help keep me sane in the longer-term.
Without wellbeing, we have very little. It’s the foundation we each need to be our best in the world.
What does it feel like for you to be rushing all the time? To be chasing your tail? To have to remind yourself that sometimes it’s okay to stop, and breathe?
And how would it be to:
- Give your full attention to something?
- Feel resilient, that you can cope with whatever life throws your way?
- Make decisions from a place of calm?
- Be clearer in your thinking and communication with others?
- Have more presence for the important people in your life?
- Get a little more satisfaction out of each day?
Have a crack at completing the pyramid, and check in with yourself every now and then. Your future self will be glad you did.