Redefining well-being through the best practices of Jungian psychoanalysis
“For everyone, well-being is a journey. The secret is committing to that journey and taking those first steps with hope and belief in yourself.” Deepak Chopra
Our theme for the month is Explore and it’s all about our well-being. The Oxford dictionary defines well-being as ‘the state of being comfortable, healthy or happy.’ I prefer to think of it as experiencing life from a place of strength. It is the experience of mental and physical health, the experience of happiness and abundance combined with a sense of purpose. To achieve a true state of well-being, we need all aspects of our lives to be in balance but that is often easier said than done as not everything is within our control. And that is important to remember – we can’t control everything in our lives, we can only control how we respond.
When it comes to creating balance, unfortunately, there isn’t one plan we can all follow to feel our best. Our well-being is personal to each of us for we are all individuals with our own unique needs. Well-being is something we often overlook or take for granted even though we all know that when we don’t look after ourselves, all aspects of our lives are negatively impacted. We can break our well-being into different areas like physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, intellectual, environmental, occupational, social and financial. Nurturing and caring for each of these areas can be overwhelming but fortunately, when we take care of one area, it impacts another.
Well-being means something different for each of us. What does it mean for you? It is crucial for each of us to define our own interpretation of well-being. It should never be someone else’s definition; it should be yours alone. We have to be careful of not falling into the comparison trap – what is right for someone else, is not necessarily right for you!! Like everything in life, it is a journey of exploration, it is about finding what works for you. Well-being is not about reaching perfection and it isn’t about setting unrealistic goals. It is about starting off small, it’s about taking one step at a time.
Experiencing life from a place of strength starts with our physical and mental health. Both are inextricably intertwined, and research has shown that exercise and nutrition have a major impact on our mental well-being, so we shouldn’t look at them in isolation. Let’s explore what well-being means to us as individuals and how we can move closer to that inspirational place of strength. What does well-being mean for you? It’s a question that seems simple when you first read it but defining it for yourself can be challenging but don’t worry, we will figure this out together.
Being aware of how we are feeling both mentally and physically right now will provide us with key insights into our current state of well-being. Take time out of your day to think about how you are feeling both mentally and physically at the moment.
We all know that our minds and bodies are connected. Our thoughts, feelings and beliefs can have either a positive or negative impact on how we function physically – our minds play a major role in determining how healthy our bodies are. But what we eat and how active we are can impact our mental state either positively or negatively.
Our minds and bodies have a complex relationship and what we do with one, impacts the other. But before we delve into each of them, let’s take the time to be grateful for what we have right now. It’s time to grab your journal and write down as many positive things about your mind and your body that you are grateful for and why you are grateful for them.
“Mental health is not a destination, but a process. It’s about how you drive, not where you’re going.” Noam Shpancer
The perfect place to start on our journey of well-being is with our mental health. Mental health is not something that should only be looked at when we are struggling. It is something we need to invest in on a daily basis. Investing in our mental health daily forms a solid foundation that can be drawn from during times of hardship. We need to start thinking of mental health in the same way we think about our physical health. Sometimes we think that our mental health only needs to be looked at when we are experiencing something like severe depression. We don’t only take care of ourselves physically when something dire happens. We all look after our physical health daily in some form or another and we should view our mental health in the same way.
When we are feeling overwhelmed, depressed, anxious, or have past challenges that we have not dealt with, it inevitably impacts how we deal with all areas of our lives. When we feel mentally depleted, it is exceptionally difficult to embrace the prospect of introducing things like healthy eating habits or exercise. What one thing can you do today that will bring you happiness? It doesn’t need to be something huge; it can be as simple as carving out some time for yourself with no interruptions. Perhaps cooking brings you joy, having a bubble bath, or snuggling up in bed with a book. It doesn’t matter what it is, just do something that will bring you happiness.
Signs that our mental health may need some tender loving care are often overlooked and thought of as normal. Many of us go through each day not feeling our best, we’re tired, we’re stressed, we’re anxious and full of worry and it becomes standard practice. We are not living but we are rather just getting through the day.
It’s important to know how you react when your mental health is in need of some extra care. Knowing the signs is crucial as it allows you to recognise that you are experiencing challenges early on and allows you to implement additional strategies to get back on track. Each of us will have different signs and you may have been living with them for so long, that you don’t realise they aren’t normal!!
Grab some paper and try and identify your signs, perhaps you isolate yourself from family or friends, or if you are like me, nothing beats comfort food on an extreme level. Perhaps you neglect your self-care, or you battle to sleep or procrastinate and don’t seem to be able to finish anything you start.
As important as it is to know the signs that your mind needs nurturing, it is also important to know what brings you joy, what makes you smile, and what makes you feel satisfied. Our mental well-being should never be centred around negatives and how we deal with them. It requires balance, knowing what makes you happy and bringing more of that into your life is just as important as knowing how to deal with stress, challenges, and hurt.
“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.” Carl Jung
Many of us are holding onto past hurts and unresolved situations that we continue to carry with us each day and then we wonder why we are feeling burdened down. Some of us are not sure why we feel the way we feel – and that is pretty normal. Finding out what makes us react the way we do is part of the exploration process. There are so many ways we can approach and deal with our past and as Lisa Olivera says, “Just because no one else can heal or do your inner work for you doesn’t mean you can, should, or need to do it alone.”
Sometimes we need a safe, non-judgemental place where we can express our feelings, where we can get guidance on how to move forward effectively and do what is in our own best interests. There are so many different types of therapies available but when it comes to sitting down with a therapist, there is only one thing that matters and that is the relationship with your therapist. You need to feel comfortable and trust your therapist completely – if you don’t feel comfortable for whatever reason, you will never be able to open up and be totally honest.
Reducing your mental load is key to your mental health and happiness and when done with a therapist you will reap the benefits of not only unburdening but also of receiving those much-needed insights we often fail to see ourselves. But you don’t have to wait for your session, you can start right now unburdening yourself by writing in your journal. Don’t think about what you should write, just start and see where it takes you.
“To keep the body in good health is a duty… Otherwise, we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear.” Buddha
We all know what we should be doing but sometimes we get lazy. It’s easier to think that tomorrow we will start being healthy, or if you are like me, it will be next Monday. It’s easier to put off going for that walk than it is to put on our running shoes. It’s easier to grab a takeaway than it is to cook a healthy meal. We often look after our material possessions better than we look after ourselves.
Physical health is often unappreciated until we don’t have it. Research has shown that exercise and nutritious meals have a meaningful impact on both our physical and mental well-being. We all know what a sugar rush feels like and how sluggish we feel after a day of indulging in all those unhealthy but ever-so-tasty meals and snacks.
If you could wave a wand and have instant physical health, what would that look like for you? I used to want to look like the models in the magazines but now, I want to be the best version of myself that I can be. I want to feel good about myself, about the way I look and feel. I want to wake up feeling energised and ready to tackle the day and I know I can’t do that unless I get enough sleep, cut back on the sugar and get my heart rate up.
“Movement is a medicine for creating change in a person’s physical, emotional and mental states.” Carol Welch
Our physical health is the foundation for a healthy and fulfilling life – how we look after our bodies will determine the quality of our lives.
Physical health is all about creating healthy habits. James Clear says it perfectly, “Building habits in the present helps you to do more of what you want in the future.” And this applies to all habits. Often, we fail because we try and introduce perfection into our lives instead of just introducing one thing at a time. If you’ve ever sat down to create a daily routine, it always amazes me how many things we plan to add and then battle to get them all done.
Our physical health encompasses so many different aspects away from eating well and exercising. It is also about being present, meditating and getting enough sleep. Start taking note of your daily routine. What you spend the most time on, is what has become important to you. And you may just be surprised at what has become your priority!
“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Lao Tzu
It is time to reflect and have a look at your daily routine. You will probably be surprised to discover that you are not looking after or prioritising your well-being. You can’t change what you don’t know, it is important to acknowledge what we are doing right and what we can improve on.
Understanding why we behave the way we do is the only way we can bring about change. If you are prioritising everyone else, is it because you don’t feel worthy? If you keep yourself overly busy or spend hours on social media or binge-watching series, is it a way of escaping having to look inwards? If you are overworked, it may be because you feel guilty to say no and have problems establishing healthy boundaries.
Sometimes we do things mindlessly, we have forgotten to be present. When we are present and mindful our choices around what we consume and what we do will be very different. Pick one thing to add to your daily routine for the next week, it can be as simple as a 10-minute meditation in the morning or drinking more water.
Well-being is also about fun. It is about trying new things, challenging ourselves and forming connections with others. We often forget that life is there to be enjoyed and to be shared. Taking time to introduce healthy habits doesn’t necessarily sound like a lot of fun. It conjures up thoughts of egg white smoothies, hour-long gym sessions, and definitely no chocolate cake. But that isn’t living either!
It is always about balance. I believe that we should eat healthily most of the time but if you’re going to indulge make sure it’s on something that is worth the calories! Like on some Lindt chocolate or a homemade strawberry roulade. Eating healthily isn’t about denying yourself, it’s about eating healthy meals that taste fabulous. Trust yourself, you know what is good for you and what isn’t.
Exercise is important but it needs to be something you also look forward to. The gym may be for you but if not, there are so many ways to get out there and move. Grab your partner or a friend and go for a walk – not only will you get in some healthy heart points but you will be connecting with someone else in a quality way. And sometimes a walk on your own is just what you need to clear your head.
Well-being is also about learning, learning what works for you and what doesn’t. The important thing is to explore and try new things – book a yoga or meditation class, learn a new skill or find a new recipe. You need to stretch yourself physically and mentally and have fun while doing it.
“Nurturing yourself is not selfish – it’s essential to your survival and well-being.” Renee Peterson Trudeau
Looking after yourself mentally and physically is the best gift you can give yourself. Self-care is not selfish, making sure that you are in a good space mentally and physically is the only way that you can give 100% of yourself to others. Self-care is crucial, you are showing yourself that you are a priority and when you look at yourself as your number 1 priority, your choices will change to reflect that. Self-care can be practised in so many different ways, sometimes it is forgiving yourself and being kind and patient with yourself.
Self-care is particularly helpful when we are starting to feel depleted mentally or physically. Having a self-care strategy in place for those challenging times can make all the difference in how you navigate your way through them. Take time to meditate, to clear your mind – even your brain needs a break from thinking. Take time to do something creative or something that feeds your soul.
Make yourself a priority!!! Remember you should always be your number one!!!
As with anything in life, when we are wanting to make changes, it is perseverance and self-discipline that will see us succeed. Self-discipline can be thought of as making decisions for your future self. What decisions can you start making for your future self? Having a conversation with your future self can be very helpful once you have a vision for how you want your life to be and feel.
Now is the perfect time to think about how you want to feel by the end of the year.
What changes would you like to see in your well-being?
What 3 things are you going to introduce to improve your mental well-being?
What 3 things are you going to introduce to improve your physical well-being?
I leave you with this quote by Bella Bleue, “Your body holds deep wisdom. Trust in it. Learn from it. Nourish it. Watch your life transform and be healthy.”
Back to Your Journey 2022