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What 'well-being' really means

Well-being is defined as “the state of feeling healthy and happy”. Consistently good mental, physical and emotional health.

And it’s certainly a buzz word.

There are Well-being Coordinators, Managers, Officers now in companies across the world, and there are more retreats, festivals and organisations promoting well-being than ever before.

Its rise in popularity is both good and bad. Good because it’s pretty amazing that we now collectively recognise that health extends passed blood tests and stool samples and are becoming increasingly supportive of nurturing good mental and physical health.

And bad because the true essence of well-being is being watered down, and it is becoming over-complicated and perhaps even slightly intimidating. References are often to a warped definition of well-being, and poorly represent the true, wholesome meaning.

For example, Weight Watchers has recently rebranded to WW with a tagline of "wellness that works". But they are still company that exists to promote weight-loss. That’s definitely not wellness. That’s disordered eating habits and a misinformed awareness of nutrition, body shape, and what health and well-being is.

On the other end of this spectrum, we’ve seen a rise in a condition called orthorexia nervosa: the unhealthy obsession with healthy eating. This increase been found to have strong links to social media: there are lots of fitness stars on platforms such as Instagram with significant followings who promote ‘clean’ eating. The problem here is that well-being doesn’t mean an unwavering focus on eating some foods and not others, on cheat days or any other commonly heard terms.

Well-being refers to mental and physical health through nurturing oneself and reacting to your body’s cues. This is often achieved through balanced diet, exercise to respect and celebrate one’s body rather than punishing it or forcing it to change shape, rest, meaningful social connection and mindfulness. Six packs, defined biceps or quads achieved through hellish diets and exercise regimes are not representative of what well-being really is.


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