What are health, wellness and wellbeing and how do we know when we have them? Does good health equal wellbeing and is wellness health? What do these words or concepts actually mean for us in our day to day living? How can we lead ourselves towards wellbeing? These are all reasonable questions and there doesn’t seem to be any consensus across the media on what these terms mean or how to achieve them.
The addition of health coaching to my coaching practice has prompted me to explore the types of information available about health, wellness and wellbeing so that we (you, me and my clients) can better understand and navigate what is becoming a very complex industry and also work out what we could be aiming for. Before we do that though have a look at the questions below and think about your answers as you read on:
• What does health mean to you?
• How do you know you are well?
• What does wellbeing mean to you and how do you know when you have it?
When we think about health, images of hospitals, serious illness or surgery can be conjured. We can also think of our local GP and the single acute problems we go with that need fixing or the diagnosis and management of chronic health issues like being overweight, having blood pressure, diabetes etc. We often don’t think about it much at all until something goes wrong.
The World Health organisation in 1946 said though, that “Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”. In 2011 they also said “Mental health is defined as a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community”.
So, health then is broader than simply the absence of disease or disability and includes reaching potential, being productive and contributing. Health is in fact defined as a state of wellbeing that we can all achieve, regardless of any health issues we may have.
Martin Seligman who is the founder of the Positive Psychology Movement (and the author of Authentic Happiness and Flourish) has developed what he calls Wellbeing Theory. He says that wellbeing has five parts to it and to achieve a feeling of wellbeing we need to experience all five:
1. Positive emotion (of which happiness and life satisfaction are all aspects)
4. Meaning and purpose
Seligman says that we can all learn and improve on these.
Wellness Coaching Australia in their blog, says that wellness is about “improving our health (and fitness) to be the best it can be under our given circumstances so that our energy is optimised”. They suggest adding the Physical aspects of wellbeing to Seligman’s definition.
The University of Miami Wellness Centre states that “Wellness is the dynamic process of becoming aware of, taking responsibility for, and making choices that directly contribute to one’s wellbeing and that of the common good. It is the integration of body, mind and spirit and the ongoing development of one’s own meaning in life”.
So wellness is about wellbeing and health in the context of energy, fitness and mind, body and spirit.
Combining all Three
Combining all three of these definitions makes it possible I think, for us to assess where we are in terms of our own health, wellness and wellbeing, where we want to go and from that we can work out how to lead ourselves towards what optimum health and wellbeing means for each of us.
When we have optimum health, wellness and well-being we:
• Have a purpose in life both broadly and within the activities that we do in our daily lives.
• Strive to ensure our physical health is the best it can be given our individual circumstances, which includes any health issues we may have. We are proactive about our physical health.
• Are as fit as we can be given our individual circumstances.
• Have energy and use it resourcefully.
• Are engaged in activities that are meaningful for us in the mind, body and spirit.
• Have choices and create opportunities to reach our full potential – we regularly accomplish things that have meaning for us.
• Have meaningful relationships with others.
• Contribute to our family, our community and to society.
How does this list compare with the answers you came up with at the beginning of the blog post?
I would love to hear your thoughts and what health, wellness and wellbeing mean to you and if you struggle in this area, shoot me a mail and we can have a chat to see if wellness coaching might help you.
Strengths Finder Assessment and Feedback
Doing Strengths Finder coaching has enabled me to see how I can make the most of my natural abilities. The test itself outlined 5 particular strengths but it was the coaching that meant I now know how to actually utilise this information. It is going to help me a great deal when it comes to my academic life and in particular how I can study in the most effective way. The coaching helps access the key to knowing your strengths and Deb has helped me devise a plan of how I can move forward with these skills. Her work with me has been vital to the Strengths Finder process and I would absolutely recommend the coaching as vital to finding your strengths.
Family Harmony Workshop for Parents
The course gave a great framework to build a more harmonious family - I find it difficult to explain to my teens why I don't like their behaviour but with this toolkit I am able to articulate this easily and less emotionally, resulting in better communication and a less charged atmosphere. Thanks Deb for the lifeline
Team Building Facilitation and Coaching
As a new Manager to a newly formed team of eight staff, I engaged Deb to facilitate our first team planning day. The objective of the day was to identify a shared vision and to start a process of strategic planning for the next three years. The day was a great success and set the team up with greater clarity of purpose and a framework for future planning.
Deb demonstrated a great understanding of the team, its context and challenges. This was due to her careful and thorough planning and reflections prior to the day. Deb managed the varying levels of engagement among the team exceptionally well; she did this with the establishment of clear ground rules and a sense of trust and respect. Deb listened actively and regularly questioned for greater clarity before reflecting on the team’s contributions.
We ended the day with a clear vision that was shared and in which all members felt they had an investment. Deb followed up regularly after the session to check in on progress and to provide advice about next steps. We were extremely lucky to have been able to work with Deb at this important stage of the team’s development and I would not hesitate for a moment in engaging Deb again.
Angela Hehir, (Manager)
Business Leadership Coaching
Debra's help in getting me to focus on the strategic direction of my business and my work-life priorities has proven invaluable. She has the ability to ask simple questions to create greater clarity and focus in both work and personal goals. Debra is a great listener, follows up on her clients and creates a great support base for her clients through recommending network groups, courses and reading material. For those who want a leadership coach that goes that extra mile,
I highly recommend her.
Yvette Audet, Sport & Recreation Management Services
360 degree feedback and Mentoring
Debra provided feedback on my 360 leader/manger profile. I have taken this style of development tool on two prior occasions and found the feedback underwhelming. This time I found that Debra has an empathetic and approachable feedback style. Previously I have felt very much that I was being placed in a stereotypical box.
I liked Debra,s approach and understood more that the outcomes of the survey reflect a favored management leadership style and this could be flexible. Debra is able to draw out your thoughts on how you feel others perceive you rather than preaching which was a great attribute.
We talked about the outcomes and the way forward and I was left with a comfortable feeling that I could achieve my higher aims. Debra provided positive feedback and kept in contact after the initial interview. Her trouble in organizing some key topic papers and net links was commendable. I hope very much to take Debra up on some future mentoring and would highly recommend Debra’s leadership skill set to you.
Professor Tim Lyons, Newcastle
Concrete personal career goals
I have appreciated my coaching sessions this year more than I can say. Deb has challenged me at every turn which I have loved, making me work hard to find my own solutions during an extremely professionally challenging year. This has been extremely satisfying.
I also now have concrete personal career goals and a plan on how to get there – non existent when I started coaching and really not something I consciously thought I needed. As a consequence I feel more focused and motivated for the next year and beyond.
Finally I would have to say my coaching session with Deb have been an absolute lifeline for me this year, keeping me on track, helping me to grow and learn and ultimately make a monumental shift in my approach and style as a leader. I am very grateful for her time, patience, humor and professionalism – I am certainly am better leader thanks to coaching with Deb.
Bernadette Hollis, Sydney