If you’re anything like me, when words like “well-being,” “wellness,” or “healthy-living” come up I am instantly skeptical of them, sniffing out the ways diet culture may be lurking behind their seemingly good intentions. So, when my work enrolled our cohort in a 6-week “Well-Being Journey” course I was instantly on the defensive.
Well-being is one of those tricky words that gets tossed around a lot but is hard to pin down or define. Professional definitions usually include words like a feeling of “happiness” “health” “prosperity” “satisfaction” and more that seem nice, but are still vague nonetheless.
This particular course broke down the concept of well-being into 6 parts that are highly interrelated, feeding off and influencing one another: physical, emotional, spiritual, vocational, financial, relational. Practically, this makes sense – how we sleep at night (physical) affects our emotions the next day (emotional) and vice versa, your emotions may impact how you sleep. Or financial stress may impact how we’re able to show up in our relationships.
Each week of the course focuses on one of the 6 aspects of well-being. In the week focused on “physical” when folks were asked how they could improve their well-being the standard responses of “eat healthier” and “exercise more” rolled out of everyone’s mouths like second nature. It’s not with ill-intention or malice, but no doubt a by-product of diet culture. When it got to be my turn, I shared how for me, taking care of my physical well-being looks like nourishing my body fully and consistently with food, engaging in movement that I find joyful, taking rest days without guilt or shame and doing the basic, boring, mundane tasks of being human like flossing, shampooing my hair, putting on hand lotion in the winter, etc. To me, this is taking care of my physical well-being.
Ultimately, it’s not my role to expose diet culture everywhere I go, but I can simply offer my own perspective, as one among many, and it helped me to realize: My personal definition and experience of well-being looks different than your well-being and that’s ok – there is no one-size-fits all formula here.
If you’re interested in figuring out what well-being looks like to you, these journaling prompts may help!
- How do I define well-being? If I’ve felt it before, what did it feel like? What did it look like?
- Is there an area of my life that feels like it needs more attention and care?
- You’re a human being, not a robot on the path of constant perfection. So with this in mind, where can you give yourself a little grace?
We’re all on our own journeys, that twist and turn and intersect with one another, so remember to be kind to each other and yourself along the way.
By: Maddy Weingast, Assistant for Therapy for Eating Disorders and Body Image