Written by Leanne Camilleri
If I am not for myself, then who will be for me? Rabbi Hillel
What is wellbeing?
Wellbeing means different things to different people. My definition is informed by wellbeing science and neuroscience and draws from the foundations of positive psychology.
While there are numerous definitions of what wellbeing actually is, Professor Martin Seligman’s PERMA model is widely used in Australian Schools such as Geelong Grammar School, Communities and workplaces. It offers a relatable format to help us understand and apply the tools for wellbeing. These important tools help us to manage our mental and physical wellbeing to thrive and build resilience in life.
What is the PERMAH prescription?
We can consider PERMA (Positive Emotion, Engagement, Relationships, Engagement, Meaning and Accomplishment. Plus Health) as the building blocks for wellbeing. How much PERMA you need, depends on the outcomes you seek to achieve with your wellbeing. We all have different levels of PERMAH. The best way to work out how much you need is by evaluating your wellbeing.
The Pillars of Wellbeing - how to measure and apply them.
These pillars are a resource to manage our wellbeing and recover from stress.
While we are not immune to difficult times, understanding the tools that help us better manage our experience, builds resilience and helps us to better manage adversity. You might look at these pillars below and immediately identify areas you can build on. PERMAH helps to make our wellbeing visible and identify what areas we can work on and what tools we can use to achieve these outcomes. My recommendation is to understand the areas you can work on and start with those.
I recommend using Dr Michelle McQuaids PERMAH Survey, it will not only provide you with a visible measure, it’s free and it provides you with a printable strategy to work on your wellbeing.
Below is a description of each pillar and some tips for each one that you can use to help build your wellbeing.
Experiencing positive emotions such as joy, happiness and gratitude help us to build resilience by becoming more optimistic and happier. Research has found that when we experience an increase in positive emotion we broaden and build the way our brain responds to opportunities and challenges.
Tips for positive emotion.
- Deliver an act of kindness for someone.
- Cultivate gratitude by recalling something that has made your life better today.
- Experience a super boost of emotion with a good old laugh, if you need a bit of help I understand cats are leading in the funniest youTube videos.
When we are engaged, we are fully absorbed in what we are doing, sometimes we may experience that feeling of being in the zone or losing a sense of time. When we are engaged, we are being interested and involved in life.
Professor Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi refers to this as flow. When we experience flow, we experience feelings of being in control and have a stronger sense of self-belief.
Tips for engagement
- Practice mindfulness by simply paying attention to your breath for a few minutes. When you find yourself becoming distracted just bring your attention back to your breath. Or follow an app such as Calm or smiling mind.
- Understand your character strengths and learn how to use them to get the best out of life. (take the free survey at viacharacter.org)
- Find moments of flow by engaging in a hobby you enjoy.
We have a biological need for social connection. Positive relationships lead to feelings of connection, lift our self-esteem and give us that sense of belonging. This leads to lower levels of stress and feelings of loneliness. Making time to socially connect is mutually beneficial.
Tips to build relationships
- Prioritise friendships by finding ways to ensure you are in regular contact with those you would like to spend more time with.
- Give your full attention to conversations by putting the phone away, turning the tv off or closing the computer to provide more meaningful connection.
- Surround yourself with people you aspire to be like or create new friendships by joining a special interest group just like the Leina Broughtons Conversations group that has inspired many friendships.
When we have a sense of meaning in our lives, research suggests we will be happier, more motivated and more satisfied in life. We all have a universal need to feel that what we do matters.
Tips to add meaning
- Become involved in a cause or organisation that matters to you.
- When undertaking a task consider; Who does this help? Why does this matter.
- Spend time with those you really care about.
From a wellbeing perspective accomplishing small achievable goals lead to a sense of mastery and a feeling of pride in what we do. What is most important with accomplishment is the ability to believe you can do better by adopting a growth mindset.
Tips for accomplishment
- Boost your confidence by embracing a power pose (see Amy Cuddys TedTalk)
- Set yourself small achievable goals and celebrate your achievements with yourself and others
- Cultivate a “not yet” attitude when things don’t quite go to plan.
Taking care of our body is of the highest importance. What we eat affects how we feel. Fuelling it with a nutritious diet will help us to feel more energised. Moving often, we are made to move it is important to move our muscles and bones, you have probably heard the term “move it or lose it”. And of course, the most important of all is sleep. A significant lack of sleep can have the same effect as alcohol. Lack of sleep has effects on our mood, the ability to concentrate and learn and even our memory. Important things happen in our bodies when we sleep, it is recommended that adults aim for 7 – 9 hours per night.
Tips for heightening health
- Move regularly, use your Fitbit or phone to count your steps
- Make healthy eating decisions by planning nutritious meals.
- Get adequate sleep by creating a bedtime routine. Incorporating a mindfulness practice to help quiet the mind helps to reduce the chatter that goes on in our minds just as our head hit the pillow.
It's my heartfelt hope that these tips and tools will be of value you to you.
There are so many tools and strategies that we can add to our wellbeing toolkit. These are just a few. I look forward to sharing more with you.