Health and Wellbeing

What is Wellbeing, Anyway?


Wellbeing Week is when Sussex celebrates health and wellbeing, which might make you wonder; what is wellbeing, anyway?

For lots of us, the word ‘wellbeing’ conjures up images of sweating in the gym, going on yoga retreats or eating loads of kale, but it’s actually a concept that’s much bigger than just our physical health.

Wellbeing it notoriously difficult to define, but you might associate it with “happiness” or as “being comfortable, healthy or happy” (Oxford English Dictionary).  Dodge et al (2012) more realistically suggest that Wellbeing is “… a state of equilibrium or balance that can be affected by life events or challenges”.

Here are some different aspects and ways of understanding your experience of Wellbeing:

Maintaining our Emotional Wellbeing can be linked to how we understand and adapt to change, cope with stresses. It can help us love and care for others, meet the needs of everyday life, and have a positive view of ourselves

Intellectual Wellbeing is about engaging in creative and stimulating mental activities, and developing ourselves by expanding our knowledge and learning new skills, ideas and understanding

Looking after our Physical Wellbeing includes eating a balanced diet, engaging in exercise and sleeping well, so that we look after our bodies. The World Health Organisation describes health as “… a resource for everyday life, not the objective of living”

Social Wellbeing is about being able to relate and connect with other people, and to establish and maintain positive relationships with family, friends and others in our world

Having Environmental Wellbeing includes recognising our own impact on the world that we live in, and having the ability to make a positive impact on the quality of our environment

Having a sense of Financial Wellbeing can be described as being and feeling financially secure and having financial freedom of choice, today and for the future

Occupational Wellbeing is about getting personal fulfilment out of the things that we do as an ‘occupation’ (it could be paid work, volunteering or study), as well as making a positive impact through our work and maintaining balance in our lives

Establishing peace and harmony in our lives can lead to Spiritual Wellbeing, as well as experiencing and integrating meaning and purpose

Each of these different aspects of our wellbeing combines to give us our overall wellness or wellbeing which, according to Shah and Marks, is “more than just happiness. As well as feeling satisfied and happy, well-being means developing as a person, being fulfilled, and making a contribution to the community”.

Although universities have a very important role to play in creating environments that promote student wellbeing, there are things we can do to look after ourselves and focus on our own individual priorities,

If we want to work on enhancing our wellbeing we can use ideas like the 5 Ways to Wellbeing, or 10 keys to happier living to focus on areas that seem important to us, and you can find loads of ideas for wellbeing boosting activities during Wellbeing Week too!