Health is often looked at in a single dimension. Many believe that health means a ‘super body’ that can be attained through frequent trips to the gym, or managing your chronic disease with only the right diet or medication. This is far from the truth.
The WHO (1948), defines health as ‘a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity’. Whilst it might be difficult to achieve ‘complete’ well-being, this statement brings up one fundamental factor – wellbeing is multi-dimensional. The importance of physical and psychosocial wellbeing cannot be overstated. But what's often forgotten is the environment. An optimal environment is key to promoting and nurturing the other three dimensions.
Physical health is the most common aspect of health that we address without any major influence from other people. However, the main issue tends to be lacking the knowledge of how to do so. There are too many ‘experts’ on the topic feeding us bad advice. There is also a tendency of ‘overdoing’ it as we are very results-oriented. We rarely accept the idea of a healthier life in our senior years. Instead we go about any physical interest or hobby like it's a job. This means increased stress levels when goals are not met and a reduction of free time.
Improving one’s physical health can be as simple as eating more variety of fruits & vegetables, rich in micronutrients and antioxidants as well as incorporating more physical activity into your daily routine. Successfully addressing physical health issues leads to feeling more energised, less tired and able to get more out of life
Mental health is defined by the WHO as “a state of wellbeing in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community”. Recently there has been a focus on mental health at both an individual and corporate level. Countless studies show the monetary detriment of mental ill-health to organisations due to increases in absence, decrease in productivity and recruitment of new team members.
Measures to improve mental wellbeing vary. A company may focus on creating a culture of openness, or promoting physical activity and good nutrition. There is strong evidence that companies with high levels of mental wellbeing are more resilient, attractive and productive.
Social wellbeing has recently become a more appreciated and important pillar of wellbeing. It's more complex to define social wellbeing compared to physical or mental wellbeing. Broadly, it's the extent to which an individual feels a sense of belonging, social inclusion and stability.
In the workplace, it can apply to relationships between employees and managers, company values, the sense of value and trust, to name a few.
Improving social wellbeing by building a positive social environment and culture at work is key and can vary from developing flexible working policies to evaluating employee support systems. It is a key area for a successful business, as a happy employee who feels valued will be more driven, loyal and productive. Win-win!
Workspace wellbeing is perhaps the less well known of the four but equally as important! As a species, we have evolved significantly over the years, however our brain and body still operate in a rather primitive way. In modern societies full of high tech, we think everything we need can be found under one roof. In actuality, what we need can only be found in nature. Many studies have concluded that nature has anxiety and stress-reducing effects on the human body. No wonder people who live in large cities and urbanised areas are more likely to experience excessive stress on a daily basis. We’ve moved away from outdoorsy manual labour to indoor sedentary work. This has brought a plethora of chronic illnesses to our societies.
By addressing the issues with our workspace, at minimum we reduce physical strain, such as bad backs and mouse elbows. What's more, we ensure business longevity by reducing burnout and increasing productivity.