In a recent survey by health app Evergreen Life, wellbeing has been recognised as being especially vital to our everyday life – with over 72% of people ranking it as a 9 or higher in terms of importance. Despite its significance, the concept of wellbeing remains fairly complex.
What does wellbeing mean to you?
Our questionnaire revealed that wellbeing is not an easily definable term, with multiple aspects coming into play. According to people surveyed, the most important elements of wellbeing are “feeling healthy” (88%), “feeling happy” (76%) and “feeling fit” (60%). A respondent reflected this in the comments section by saying that for them “health and fitness come together.”
One of the most important findings was that wellbeing isn’t about focusing on just your physical health, and mental health is potentially more central in maintaining good wellbeing. Almost a third (32%) of our survey respondents reported that “being happy” was the single most important aspect for them to prioritise. This was followed by “reducing stress/anxiety/worry” (24%).
Evergreen Life’s Wellbeing Expert Matt Jolley comments: “I’m pleased to see a focus on mental health and being happy from the survey results. I always believed that mental health would play a large part in how we approach our wellbeing.”
When it comes to rating their current state of wellbeing, an overwhelming 89% of the 1,314 respondents reported their wellbeing as below 9 on a 1-10 scale. Almost a quarter (24%) ranked themselves as a 7, which isn’t too high or too low – it indicates a good level of wellbeing. But, it could be better, and that’s what we want to work on improving here at Evergreen Life. We’re interested in knowing what would turn a 7 into an 8, 9 or 10!
Commenting on the survey results, Matt says: “It’s great to see how important people think wellbeing is to their everyday life. However, given this importance, I’m intrigued to find out why most people don’t believe they’re 9 or 10 out of 10 well. This is what we’re looking to improve, so it’d be good to find out what might motivate people to improve their own wellness.”
Being social to banish the loneliness
Interestingly, over half (51%) believed that “meaningful relationships” defined wellbeing for them and 43% regularly socialise to improve their wellbeing. That might include talking with a family member or going out with friends – any kind of interaction that works at reducing feelings of loneliness.
And recent research has well documented the detrimental effects that loneliness has on your health. Studies have found that feeling lonely is as bad for you as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, and social isolation can increase your risk of death by 29%. Whilst loneliness can affect people of all ages, Age UK (2016) reports that half a million older people go at least five or six days a week without seeing or even speaking to anyone at all. And in our survey, although only 11% prioritised social time or spending time with family as a way to improve wellbeing, 74% of those people were aged over 60. This highlights just how crucial socialisation is to health and wellbeing for this age group.
Looking at other causes for loneliness, nowadays people often work from home and this can have a negative impact on their socialisation as well. Although quality time spent focusing on yourself can be good for your wellbeing, it seems that it's also good to prioritise building relationships with others in order to preserve mental health.
Is wellbeing about weight loss?
Weight loss wasn’t something that our survey respondents often considered, with only 25% choosing “losing weight” as a defining aspect of wellbeing and only 10% prioritising it solely. Some respondents even commented “all of the above except losing weight.” Matt questions: “is wellbeing more about staying at a healthy weight or does how heavy we are even factor in at all?”
Despite this, 3 in 10 of our respondents find “losing weight” to be the most difficult area of wellbeing to manage. And “reducing stress/anxiety/worry” is a close second with just over a quarter of respondents (25%) struggling to manage this side of their wellbeing.
Healthy eating, exercise and sleep
Among 72% of people surveyed, eating healthily was the most common method of improving wellbeing. So, it seems that the food we eat has a big impact on how well we might feel. But eating healthily wasn’t that popular to measure, with only 17% of people using a calorie tracker or keeping a food diary to record their daily meals.
Coming in at second, almost two thirds (61%) of people exercise to improve wellbeing. Many more of the people we surveyed track their physical activity in contrast to their healthy eating habits, with 36% using a fitness tracker or pedometer.
So, is a more sedentary lifestyle associated with a lower sense of wellbeing? Well, one respondent voiced that “the main thing is to keep mobile.” Unfortunately, they also expressed a concern of not being able to do so “if you have a long day at the computer.” Others also had similar thoughts, saying that it’s hard to fit exercise into a busy day.
Half of those surveyed reported that they’re "trying to get more sleep" to improve wellbeing. As reported by the Mental Health Foundation, poor sleep quality is often linked to physical problems like a weakened immune system, anxiety and depression. All these factors contribute to a pretty low state of wellbeing, so it isn’t surprising that getting a good night’s sleep is one of the best ways to instantly improve how well you feel.
Make more quality time for you
Other things people like to do to improve wellbeing are “gardening” or “being in the outdoors” (42%). Taking time to do personal hobbies and interests was particularly popular (40%), with one of our respondents highlighting that “time for me” is something that would help improve their wellbeing. It's something that links to self care practices and self development. You can even find help from local community activities and support groups. This can range from exercise classes to painting to pottery - or even just getting together with like-minded people to chat. The idea is that these community groups can actually enhance your physical and mental wellbeing, without or by supplementing medical treatment for certain health conditions. Read more about how you can find local groups that suit your wellbeing needs.
However, it seems that again time is a key barrier to improving wellbeing. What we’d like to know here at Evergreen Life is how these daily struggles could be overcome so we can help you achieve your health goals more easily.
How do we measure wellbeing?
Weight scales are the most common way of measuring wellbeing among 42% of people surveyed. Though, as only a small number said weight loss is a priority, it’d be interesting to know if they’re using scales to either maintain or gain weight.
Despite stress/anxiety/worry and happiness being important wellbeing factors, very few of those surveyed (3.4%) use a “meditation app” or “mental health/mood tracker.” The same pattern applies for sleep, whereby only 13% use a sleep monitor. Equally, many respondents (29%) are not currently using any method for measuring wellbeing.
Motives to improve wellbeing
According to our survey, 44% are motivated to improve wellbeing by their health or medical condition. In the additional comments many people cited “illnesses”, “chronic pain” and “history of heart disease in the family” as something that prompted an interest in their own wellbeing. Some people were triggered to do something after having either gained weight (34%), suffered with stress or anxiety (33%) or not been getting enough sleep (30%). Others became conscious of their own wellbeing for their children or family (29%) – with one individual saying they’re “driven by family” so they can “keep up with [their] daughter.”
Moving wellbeing forward
Following the results of the Wellbeing Survey, Evergreen Life are seeking a better understanding of how people like to define, improve and measure their wellbeing – which we can then integrate into different aspects of our app. This will help you with managing your health, so you can take better control of your overall wellbeing.
Matt says that “we’re looking to provide as wide a scope as possible, taking care of as many wellbeing aspects that we can. So, now we’ll look to dive further into mental health and social impacts upon our wellbeing.”
Take control of your health today with Evergreen Life. Download the app here.