Many interweaving factors affect our overall well-being. Research indicates these are the 9 most essential.
According Dr Martin Seligman and the Wellbeing and Resilience Centre, wellbeing is not a single entity or a way of being, but is a construct made up of numerous elements.
Dr. Seligman believes that wellbeing can be measured and conceptualised by integrating the following 9 elements referred to as the PERMA dashboard.
Check your life factors to see what’s affecting your wellbeing here:
According to the PERMA model, positive emotion is more than just happiness. It’s engaging a range of emotions like joy, amusement, hope, love, compassion, gratitude, thoughtfulness, intrigue, creativity, passion, pride and so on. We can’t alter our genetics but we do have the capability of committing and mindfully focusing on driving positive emotions. It eventually becomes habit and the more we engage in the practice, the easier it becomes.
Engagement is being involved in things we love to do. We make a conscious effort to focus on living in the present and focusing on the task at hand. The goal is to draw attention to the enjoyment of the current experience and in engaging in the things that give us pleasure. These are the things we get up in the morning to enjoy engaging in. They are meaningful and worthwhile activities and we are passionate about the outcomes.
Relationships are the connections we have with others in our lives. Relationships help us to feel connected, supported, valued and cared for. We are social beings and require positive social connection to survive and flourish. Relationships help us feel nurtured, wanted and protected. They are essential to our positive well-being.
The 4th component in the PERMA model is meaning. Human beings must find meaning to the things we do. This is often also connected with a belief that we are serving something more important than just ourselves. Meaning is having a higher purpose. Focusing on meaning helps divert power away from the difficult moments and helps us cope is a more positive way. Meaning may be found through our work, interests, goals or beliefs and spirituality.
Having a sense of accomplishment is enriching. Most of us know the feeling we have had after doing well on an exam, our sporting team wins a Grand Final, we finish a difficult project, we get that promotion, and the like. A sense of accomplishment is experienced when we strive and achieve our goals, we’ve mastered a task and completed what we set out to do.
Physical activity and good nutrition
The positive impacts of regular exercise and a quality diet, on physiological functioning and longevity have been extensively evidenced. But exercise also correlates strongly with emotional good health. According to the Black Dog Institute, even a small level of exercise is mentally beneficial and is known to prevent and treat mental illnesses such as depression.
Likewise, there is no shortage of research to support that what we eat impacts on our emotional functioning. According to the Mental Health Foundation, people who reported mental health problems also reported eating fewer healthy foods like fresh fruit and vegetables, organic foods or home-made meals, but reported an intake of more unhealthy foods such as chips, chocolate, ready meals and takeaways).
According to the National Sleep Foundation, adequate and quality sleep is necessary for healthy functioning. Sleep regulates mood, is essential for learning and other memory functions and influences weight and energy levels. Sleep issues are also related to significant health conditions such as stroke and heart attack. With inadequate sleep, we perform poorly at work and tend to exercise and connect with others less.
Optimism is the propensity to expect positive things will come in the future and that life will generally provide good outcomes. According to researchers, optimism influences both a person’s physical and mental health. Optimists are highly more successful than pessimists during difficult events and when significant life goals encounter obstacles. Recommendations are that strategies to foster optimism should be integrated into future mental health prevention and treatment programs to improve overall well-being.