Essentially, it’s about us being able to ‘work’ properly. Comprising of both the physical and mental, both are intricately connected with each impacting the other.
Defining the former is more straightforward. Physical wellbeing is experienced when all internal and external body parts, (organs, tissues and cells) function optimally, enabling movement and activity. Deciding which initiatives a business should implement to help support physical wellbeing is also fairly simple, as there is less debate about efficacy. Many companies today offer subsidised gym memberships, promote healthy eating via staff canteens and give workstation assessments as standard to employees. These are enablers for being physically fitter and healthier, with more energy to be productive, therefore less time is lost in sick days.
Mental wellbeing is also about optimal functioning, but of the mind. Slightly trickier to describe, I would argue it’s essentially about how you feel – having sufficiently positive thoughts and ideas about yourself which enable you to engage with the tasks of everyday life.
Supporting mental wellbeing is also less straightforward. There’s many reasons behind this:
- For many it’s still a taboo subject, so even talking about it can be difficult (even with its rebrand from mental health – should we then talk about promoting mental agility or dexterity?).
- Misguided perceptions of mental wellbeing issues. I’ve been challenged that it’s a sign of weakness despite its prevalence (1 in 4 people in the UK experience mental health problems each year).
- But most difficult is the unique way in which mental wellbeing issues both arise and manifest themselves in individuals. As a result, tackling them requires a tailored approach. Through our experiences and through others experience of us, we build a personal narrative by which we identify ourselves. When these narratives distort, our mental wellbeing suffers. Most of the work I do is helping my clients unpick these thoughts and ideas, so as to rewrite these personal stories. Through the challenging and changing of self-perception, positive improvements can be made to mental wellbeing.