June 27, 2022
When I think about my well-being, it helps me to think of a pie. Not a delicious apple and rhubarb pie, but a pie chart. I’ll explain.
There are four key aspects to consider when reflecting on our well-being: mental, physical, social, and financial health. These are often referred to as the ‘pillars of well-being’, with each pillar supporting our overall well-being. The more we nurture each of these areas, the stronger the sense of health, happiness and fulfillment in our lives.
One of my favorite self-care techniques is checking in with myself by asking the question: what is it I need right now? If the answer is not as simple as taking a nap, I visualize a well-being pie chart and think about what areas may need some extra attention. Coming out of the pandemic, I had been careful to mind my finances, and my mental and physical health were holding strong in large part due to my yoga practice. Considering the social slice of well-being pie helped me realize that there was room for improvement in this area, as working from home and keeping distance from others left me craving human connection.
There are many factors that impact our mental, physical, social and financial health. Some, like global events, are beyond our control. While we may not have influence over these events, there are steps we can take to improve our health and well-being and find some ease in our daily lives. In honor of World Well-being Week, we will shine a light on the four areas of well-being, explore how these aspects influence each other, and learn how to enhance our overall well-being with mindfulness. To join us, you can sign up for our webinar with mindfulness expert Jim Austin on Thursday, June 30th at 1:00 PM EST here.
Meanwhile, here are some short and simple mindfulness practices that you can apply in your life to boost your well-being today.
Mental Well-being: Try Conscious Breathing to Relieve Mental Tension
The most easily accessible mindfulness tool lives within us – the breath. When we are feeling anxious or overstimulated we tend to take short, shallow breaths in our upper chest. Lengthening our inhalations and exhalations enables us to relax the nervous system and calm an overactive mind. There are many guided practices from 5 to 30 minutes in length that you can try to direct focused attention to your breath and find relief from stress.
If your mind is really buzzing, bumble bee breathing is a soothing exercise that stimulates the relaxation response.
- Get into a comfortable position with a straight spine, either seated or lying down on the back is fine. Note: privacy might be ideal for this one.
- Take a slow, deep breath in through the nose.
- As you exhale, make a humming sound like a bee, or the letter M.
- Repeat for as many cycles as feels right to you.
Physical Well-being: Listen to What Your Body is Telling You
Mindfulness teaches us to tune into the wisdom of the body (and give it what it needs). You may have heard the expressions: pain in the neck, a pit in the stomach, feeling broken-hearted. These relate to various ways that emotions can manifest in the physical body. The key is to develop an awareness of what our bodies are trying to signal us so we can respond appropriately. A body scan practice is a great way to deepen your intuition and assess what you need to feel better.
Financial Well-being: Master the Mindful Pause to Make More Thoughtful Decisions
Many of us are feeling financial anxiety with inflation at a 40-year high. It’s easy to get caught up in ruminating on past financial decisions, or worrying about the uncertainty of the future. When this occurs, try taking a moment to pause, reset and connect to the present with the STOP practice. This will help you let go of emotional reactivity and proceed with financial decisions with a clear mind.
The same practice can be used to overcome the instant gratification of splurging, which might make us feel good in the moment, but can also negatively impact our long-term financial health. Take a pause before purchasing. Ask yourself why you are buying the item, and whether it supports your financial goals. Understanding the difference between an impulse buy and a purchase that provides security can help you move towards financial freedom.
Social Well-being: Regulate Your Emotions with the HALT Method
At one point or another, we’re all guilty of taking our emotions out on someone. Despite our best intentions, strong emotions can lead to all kinds of automatic reactive behaviors. The HALT method is a mindfulness tool that can help us understand why we may be feeling off-balance, so we can create some space between the stimulus and the response. HALT is an acronym that stands for hungry, angry, lonely and tired. Next time you find yourself in a state of emotional dysregulation, try running the acronym through your mind and question whether any of these states apply to you at this point in time. In doing so, you can develop greater self-awareness of your triggers and become better able to make healthy choices rather than succumbing to urges.
Try all these short and simple mindfulness practices or just one that you need now to boost your well-being today. And don’t forget to join us for the Improve All Areas of Your Well-being with Mindfulness webinar.
Written by Annie Slaby