Many of us focussed on a health and wellness goal throughout January by taking part in a campaign such as ‘Veganuary’ or ‘Dry January’ and we celebrate you stepping out of your comfort zone to do this. Was your decision to participate based purely on personal health and wellbeing, or were there environmental reasons too?
For us here at FourState Wellness those reasons are one and the same.
"No matter who we are or where we live, our well-being depends on the way ecosystems work" (Haines-Young & Potschin 2010)
Every relationship and interaction (including those we have with ourselves) boils down to an exchange of energy on some level. Consider how this energy exchange impacts you when you are driving in town and someone stops to let you pull out of a junction…how that kindness and courtesy shown by someone you don’t know, who wasn’t even in the same car as you, subsequently increased your positive mood. How can smiling at a stranger make both you and the stranger feel a little more cheerful? How does hugging your children make you and the child feel emotions like love and being nurtured, when touch is a physical activity? When we examine wellbeing its important to observe it holistically (as a whole), seeing not just the individual physical, emotional, psychological, spiritual and social aspects of being (i.e. our internal environment), but also how these aspects are interlinked and interact or influence each other.
Viewing health and wellbeing in terms of groups of individual criteria to be met is too simplistic a view and not taking into consideration the entangled links between those groups will inevitably make it easier to fall off the ‘wellness wagon’ as each group needs to be supported by the others if healthy habits are to be sustainable. For example, it is amazing for our physical health (and many acknowledge some psychological benefits) if we get regular exercise. However, if we do this because every time we see ourselves in the mirror we have a distorted interpretation of our body, then our mental state is not being fully supported and this injection of negative energy creates a ripple effect and off the wagon we fall.
We believe that an understanding of this interlinked nature of all aspects of life offers us great potential for increasing our sense of wellbeing and subsequently health. The more we examine wellbeing the more it becomes clear that it is irrelevant where you start looking to make habit changes in life, any addition of positive energy can have a huge impact in all areas because of the close links. There is much research evidence to suggest that practicing self care can be huge for health and wellbeing, but how does taking a seemingly innocuous bubble bath impact a relationship with a boss at work? Perhaps by nurturing the sense of wellbeing in one area of life, this positive energy flows through the links that connect it to other areas allowing it to permeate those areas and boost positive energy within them too.
Why are FourState, an eco, sustainable and ethical store, adding this holistic health and wellness focus to their work?
This Theory of Wellness focusses on all aspects of being, including social relationships and interactions. These social exchanges not only encompass friends and family, but how we relate to both ourselves and our external environment.
We strongly believe that solutions to our environmental issues lie in a holistic approach…..not simply looking at it in isolation or something external to us (as with personal health and wellbeing). If we are to truly make changes in our environmental habits and behaviours, then we need to support our action in all aspects of life…Wellness inside and out.
Think of it as an energy cycle…taking nutrition as an example, how our food is grown in our external environment impacts our internal environment when we eat it and subsequently our internal wellbeing impacts our external environment as we nurture the growth of our food by providing good quality soil.
Our environment provides us with many of our basic requirements for health and wellbeing. The food we eat, that gives us energy and life - and protection, keeping us safe and nurtured to name a few.
In addition to these basic needs, Ferrer-i-Carbonell & Gowdy (2007) found that people who show concern about positive environmental features (e.g. nature landscapes, interactions with animals and plants) have a higher sense of wellbeing. There is emerging evidence that supports this, resulting in the use of animals and pets to increase the wellbeing of hospital based patients and the use of gardening schemes to help those with mental health conditions.
Could it be that the more positive energy we surround ourselves with, regardless of which aspect of life receives the positive energy, the greater our experience of wellbeing…and subsequently health….internally and externally?