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The concept of well-being has been growing in importance over recent years in a variety of settings. In schools, universities, and workplaces, more is being done to ensure our well-being is also a priority. That is largely due to the amount of recently published research showing the importance of finding time to look after ourselves and those around us and forget about the many pressures that come with modern day life. Without looking after our well-being, we are unable to fully prosper, whether that’s studying or working.

But what is well-being? Is it the same as mindfulness? In this post, we look more in detail at mindfulness and well-being with Lisa Bevill, Director of the IE Center for Health, Well-being and Happiness.

What is well-being?

Well-being can be defined as a sense of health and vitality that arises from your thoughts, emotions, actions, and experiences. As Lisa tells us, it consists of three main pillars: balance, appreciation, and perspective.

Looking at each one, balance is all about finding the equilibrium between mental, physical and emotional health. Appreciation refers to acknowledging your own values and strengths, as well as those of others. Last, but by no means least, perspective is being able to keep focused on the journey rather than the destination. Lisa says it’s important to bear in mind that well-being is something that can always be worked on – which is why the focus should be on the journey.

Aspects of well-being

Well-being, as mentioned, covers everything from mental, physical and emotional aspects. Let’s look more in detail at each one:

  • Physical well-being: To develop our physical well-being, we need to understand our dietary and nutritional needs, as well as factor in what types of exercise we enjoy. Doing so means we can implement healthy strategies in our daily lives. In working towards physical well-being, we are more likely to feel healthier, prevent diseases, and keep our bodies functioning.
  • Emotional well-being: To develop our emotional well-being, we need to build our emotional skills—skills like positive thinking, resilience, and mindfulness. These skills enable us to cope with stress, regulate our emotions in the face of challenges, and quickly recover from upsets so that we can continue pursuing our goals and go about our lives.
  • Mental well-being: This is similar to emotional well-being and is about finding ways to cope with factors such as stress. There are many ways we can work on mental well-being, including getting enough sleep, and spending time in nature, for example.

What is mindfulness?

Well-being and mindfulness are often terms used interchangeably. But as Lisa explains, the latter is actually more of a technique we can use to achieve well-being.

“Mindfulness is a technique you can learn which involves noticing what’s happening in the present moment, without judgement. You might take notice and be aware of your mind, body or surroundings,” she explains.

When asked about the aims of mindfulness, she gives us some examples, such as:

  • Becoming more self-aware
  • Feeling calmer and less stressed
  • Coping with difficult or unhelpful thoughts
  • Being kinder towards yourself.

Mindfulness, just like playing sport, or a musical instrument, is a skill that requires practice, Lisa adds. People who are new to it will probably need to start off slowly, practising mindfulness for five or ten minutes a day and dedicating more time as they make it a daily habit.

Example of mindfulness techniques

Mindfulness can be practiced in a number of ways. The following are just some examples of how to incorporate mindfulness into your daily routine:

  • Pay attention: It’s hard to slow down and notice things in a busy world. The pressures of study deadlines can be stressful. But it’s important to take time out to experience your environment with all of your senses — touch, sound, sight, smell and taste. For example, when you eat a favourite food, take the time to smell, taste and truly enjoy it.
  • Live in the moment: Bring an open and accepting mind to everything you do. Find joy in simple pleasures.
  • Accept yourself: Treat yourself the way you would treat a good friend, family member, or indeed a stranger!
  • Focus on your breathing: When you have negative thoughts, try to sit down, take a deep breath and close your eyes. Focus on your breath as it moves in and out of your body.

We hope this post helps with understanding more about well-being. As a college, we work on all aspects of students’ well-being and it will continue to be a priority as they prepare for life at university and beyond.