Now more that ever, wellness is at the front of all our minds. So, what is wellness and how does it relate to our mental health?
Business coach and mentor, Lou Booth, reflects on how mental health awareness is at the forefront of helping people to improve their wellness.
The Global Wellness Institute describes wellness as: ‘The active pursuit of activities, choices and lifestyles that lead to a state of holistic health.’
The World Health Organisation’s (WHO) definition is: ‘Wellness is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.’
We all have mental health and it can vary throughout our lives, depending on our experiences and life situations.
We know that lockdown has had a heightened effect on our mental health. The impact of increased use of technology to work, shop, socialise and take leisure time is indicative of the dramatic lifestyle shifts we are currently experiencing globally.
Feelings of isolation, physical absence or loss of loved ones, friends and colleagues, or being locked up with family, without space or a channel to release can all impact our mental health.
Yet mental health, may still not be an easy subject to talk about. I wonder why that is?
I grew up in the 1980’s in a small Lancashire village. I was the middle of three children. My mum suffered with her mental health. She was highly intelligent yet never got true help.
Looking back, yes this was tough, both young people and adults can be cruel, fearful at what they don’t understand. In retrospect I now appreciate my experience brought much learning, understanding and empathy for those suffering from mental health. I know if people can get help, guidance and support the story can turn out to be very different.
Tough experiences can provide us with a foundation to develop grit and resilience. If we combine this support, with purpose we can achieve great heights; demonstrated from the stories and origins of many successful entrepreneurs, philanthropists and businessmen and women.
The opening up of talking about mental health
Today we are lucky, there is far more accessible support and awareness of mental health.
Public figures are now talking about, and not hiding from, their own experiences of mental health. Be that anxiety, panic attacks and depression to repeated feelings of low mood and feeling unwell. Sports personalities like England’s Football Team Manager Gareth Southgate and rugby legend Jonny Wilkinson are sharing their experiences. So are our film superheroes like Chris Evans (Captain America). English actor, comedian Stephen Fry is a well-known figurehead, and the President of UK’s Mind. Young royals like the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry and their “Heads Together” campaign are all helping to reduce the stigma around mental health.
Yet even with increased awareness and being able to ask for help we can still unconsciously hold mental and emotional scars; wounds that may not have fully recovered as we move through new tricky experiences. Our wounds can surface when we least expect, especially when we are under extreme pressure.
Taking the time to be kind to care and tend for our wounds first can bring about healing and great strength. Starting with ourselves we can build more capacity and clarity to support ourselves and others, at home and work.
Developing self-awareness and self-responsibility
In business and personal coaching, I have found Dr. J Travis’s Wellness Inventory Workbook brilliant, a really useful starting point. A progression of his “Illness – Wellness Continuum”, that he developed for the medical profession in the 1970’s.
Like many other practical business tools, Dr. Travis’s inventory enables clients to self-assess, and then plot their findings; their areas of strengths and areas of deficit. Then it goes further, to bridge the gap in traditional medicine by revealing the interconnectedness between our mental, physical, emotional and spiritual health. This integration develops harmony.
In this holistic approach “thinking, feeling and sensing” all make up the elements of mental health. Whereas “work and play, relationships and communication” form part of our emotional health. These link to our physical and spiritual health. Developing self-awareness and self-responsibility is empowering and introduces the key element of choice to act, be that to talk to a trusted friend, to seek professional help, or to leave alone at this time.
As a wellness coach, I provide a professional, safe and trustworthy space to help others transform. My life’s passion is integrating wellness into business mentoring and life coaching. I have a heartfelt wish to support others through transformation to help them find their own insights, authentic self and personal wellspring.
Lou Booth is a Lancashire business owner, delivering business mentoring and wellness coaching and helping business owners, and their employees to thrive and flourish.
She has been a mentor as part of Boost’s Growth Mentoring Programme for eight years.