Now that you’ve completed the Sense of Wellbeing check in your Evergreen Life app, you’re on your way to understanding more about how to help yourself.
This article looks at personal wellbeing, what it is and why it’s worth measuring, and offers a few practical suggestions to help improve your score and feel better in a way that you can notice.
For many, pursuing a healthier lifestyle brings the difficult challenge of changing old habits and beliefs. In the face of these hurdles, we aim to provide support and encouragement to empower people to make changes if that feels right.
Why measure personal wellbeing?
- Because improved wellbeing strengthens the immune system, is associated with a longer life, and in healthy populations it’s as good as giving up smoking for longevity.
- Better wellbeing is correlated with higher pain tolerance, improved cardiovascular health, slower disease progression and better reproductive health.
- There is a two-way relationship between health and wellbeing: health influences wellbeing and wellbeing itself influences health.
- Health is one of the top things people say matters for wellbeing.
- Both physical and mental health influence wellbeing, however mental health and wellbeing are separate to each other as well.
When a new mental health check becomes available, you’ll get a notification sent to your phone.
What does personal wellbeing actually mean?
Personal wellbeing is a way to rate how you are doing. It’s about what you think and how you feel. You might sometimes hear it called ‘subjective wellbeing.’ This differs from ‘objective wellbeing’ which is from the perspective of others. For example, a doctor may measure changes in your mood over a period of time.
Components of personal wellbeing include:
- Frequent positive effects (pleasurable feelings)
- Infrequent negative effects (painful feelings)
- A sense that life is good
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) describes personal wellbeing as “how satisfied we are with our lives, our sense that what we do in life is worthwhile, our day to day emotional experiences (happiness and anxiety) and our wider mental wellbeing."
Measuring personal wellbeing
Wellbeing is quite tricky to measure as it’s not clearly defined and can mean quite different things to different people. This was highlighted in a British Medical Journal recently which identified 99 different areas that fall under the umbrella of ‘wellbeing.’ Personal Wellbeing is one of ten different areas of wellbeing measured by the Office for National Statistic (ONS), across various surveys.
Since 2010, the UK has trail blazed the measurement of our nation’s wellbeing in its Measuring What Matters” programme. The Sense of wellbeing check you’ve just completed includes four questions from the national programme so you can assess your own Personal wellbeing in the same way.
Understanding more about the personal wellbeing check
Each of the four questions in your Personal Wellbeing check addresses a different key area of your wellbeing: happiness, life satisfaction, your sense that the things you do are worthwhile, and anxiety.
As you’ve agreed to be a Data Donor, any feedback you contribute will be pooled with the Evergreen Life community to help us all understand how to feel better.
How can we improve our sense of wellbeing?
Rather than offer advice, we want to encourage self-help strategies for you to consider and - if its right for you – try it out. Over the coming months we’ll be offering Personalised Wellbeing coaching – strategies, information and tools to help you feel better.
The felt sense
The route to a better sense of wellbeing begins with paying attention to how you’re feeling. When you find your thoughts moving towards a subject, noticing a connection between the thought in your head and how that thought makes you feel can help you begin your journey to better personal wellbeing.
Does the thought give rise to a sensation felt in your body? American philosopher Eugene Gendlin called this non-verbal reaction the ‘felt sense.’ It’s a subtle, bodily-felt meaning that sometimes can’t be fully expressed in words. You might feel this as a very strong emotion, with reactions like anger and fear, or even excitement.
How often are you absent from what’s going on around you? Maybe your mind wanders off, thinking about what’s for tea tonight or replaying a conversation over and over in your head.
Paying attention to the way in which a thought makes you feel gives you a starting point from which you can learn how to focus attention towards better feeling about your thoughts. It might not always be easy or even possible but noticing the connection is a good place to start.
Clinical psychiatry professor Dr. Dan Siegel developed a guided meditation tool called the Wheel of Awareness. Practising it can be a useful tool to help you to free your mind from ingrained patterns of thought and emotion through using present moment anchors.
Heads up on meditation
According to meditation expert Emily Fletcher, who founded the Ziva meditation school, the biggest misconception about meditation is that its purpose is to stop your mind from thinking, or ‘empty your mind.’ Just try to stop thinking and see for yourself – it’s pretty difficult. As Emily says, when people try that, it’s usually “the beginning and end of their meditation career… Trying to give your mind a command to stop thinking is as effective as giving your heart a command to stop beating—it doesn’t work.”
“But if we go into this thinking that the point of meditation is to get good at life—not to get good at meditation, and if we accept the reality that no one can give their mind a command to stop, then it’s so much more innocent, so much more playful, and so much more enjoyable.”
Your feedback is important
We want to hear from you - questionnaires are a way to give feedback and to notice if the changes you’ve made have made a difference. Did your score improve? Did you feel any differently? The Evergreen Life community is made up of similarly focused people, so feeding back to all of us can help yourself and others learn what works well to improve wellbeing. After pooling our information, we’ll report back our findings to the Evergreen Life community.
Repeating your Sense of Wellbeing check (typically after 4 weeks) allows you to monitor the effects of your changes.
We hope the app will develop over time to become the most effective way to monitor your health and wellbeing.