Over recent years it has been fantastic to see how awareness and understanding of mental health and wellbeing have increased within organisations, encouraging diverse discussion, supportive initiatives and even legislative changes. However, it can be confusing to understand the difference between these terms when they are so frequently used interchangeably… So what do we actually mean when we talk about wellbeing?
Whilst there is no set definition of wellbeing, it is commonly used as an umbrella term referring to a much wider scope of an individual’s wellness, encompassing both physical and psychological health alongside wider components such as our environment, social networks and occupation.
These components not only contribute to our overall wellbeing but will also commonly influence one another. For example, if we are experiencing financial difficulties, we may also experience physical and psychological symptoms of stress. With the components each on a continually fluctuating scale, it can be challenging to maintain our overall wellbeing. We therefore require a range of strategies and skills to be able to effectively recognise and respond to our varying needs. When terms such as mental health are being used, often interchangeably, it is important to remember that this is only one piece of the jigsaw which contributes to overall wellbeing.
Whilst many of the components of wellbeing lie outside of the workplace context, wellbeing levels have a significant impact on and are directly impacted by an individuals’ experience in the workplace. The ability to confidently and successfully fulfil the demands of an employees’ role, as well as engaging in positive workplace relationships can be hindered where wellbeing is poor. Likewise, where factors within the workplace are having a detrimental impact on wellbeing, individuals are likely to experience a ripple effect on wider aspects of day to day life. We can perhaps all relate to having a difficult day at work and this then having an impact on our ability to effectively give our time and energy to our home life or vice versa.
While it is encouraging to see such an increased appreciation of wellbeing within the workplace, it is important to avoid falling into the trap of ‘prescribed’ wellbeing initiatives and box ticking – the idiosyncratic and dynamic nature of wellbeing means that what may be beneficial and enjoyable for one person might not be helpful for someone else. Just like the adage of ‘teach a man to fish …..’ supporting wellbeing isn’t just about providing activities and an improved environmen. When planning how you can effectively support the wellbeing of your team, consider how to empower them with the tools to enable them to take control of and enhance their wellbeing as well as developing a workplace culture where communicating wellbeing needs is encouraged and valued.
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