While the popularity of the word “wellbeing” on the internet has significantly grown during the last couple of years and has turned into a buzzword, most of us still do not feel that well. Only 20% of the US working population declared that they “typically do not feel tense or stressed out during the workday”, while 71% do. In Czech Republic, 62% of the population reported that their psychological well-being was impacted due to the pandemic.
The state of our general wellbeing is a reflection of different parts and factors of our life, including mind, body, relationships, career, financial situation etc. In this article I would like to give some practical tips you can apply in order to support your well-being.
Biohack your Wellbeing
Life is not designed to be a constant straight line of happiness. Whether we like it or not, sometimes life simply happens. Our sense of wellbeing may get shaken. We may get sick, get into an accident, lose a job or even worse, lose a close person. At certain points life may actually feel truly hard.
Whenever any kind of crisis happens, it’s natural for us to go through a process of adaptation to the new situation, and it always comes with its ups and downs, filled with stress and emotions. This process may last weeks, months or sometimes years, but its length will very much depend on our everyday choices and actions.
Think of it this way. When we are stressed, we feel it in the mind, maybe notice it in the body, but what actually happens is that the biochemical “cocktail” in us changes. Stress causes different hormones, such as adrenaline, cortisol and noradrenaline to release. If we persist in a stressful situation for a longer time, the “cocktail” will not change and become a toxic poison that will start damaging our health. So when in stress, especially a long term stress, consciously make choices to balance your biochemical “cocktail” with “feel-good” hormones. Let’s look at each of them and review what actions stimulate their release.
Endorphins. Endorphins are all about activating your body. Engage yourself in sports, dance, go to a sauna and massage, have sex, lay down on a needle mat.
Serotonin. This one is also stimulated by exercise (so make sure you do it ;) ), but also exposing your skin to sun for at least 15 minutes every day, eating tasty food, observing beautiful things, a well organized space, enjoying nature will make you feel better, and guess what, it is serotonin released into body!
Oxytocin. Oxytocin is all about intimacy. Being in close and trusting relationships with other people, be it your family members, partner or friends, makes us feel safe and loved. This is oxytocin. Also cooperation with others on some common meaningful goal, like charity, art projects, or developing solutions that make our world a better place will support production of this hormone in your body.
GABA. The hormone of peace and relaxation is released by our body when we are exercising (again!) and meditating! So engage yourself in meditation too. By the way, meditation also supports production of melatonin, which helps us sleep.
Assess your zone of control
If you find yourself far from a state of wellbeing, ask yourself this question: aren’t you trying to control something that actually is not in your zone of responsibility? A project, partner, your parents' opinion on politics… The thing is that once we are not clearly aware of our zone of responsibility, we either tend to overcontrol and feel exhausted, or give up control where we could make an impact and feel helpless. In any case both are causing stress. So make crystal clear what you are responsible for and able to make an impact and leave the rest to them.
Dream big, plan small
Dreaming small is not helping us to get excited and energized to move forward, while planning big may get us into a situation when we feel overwhelmed and frustrated. Finding balance here is the key. Try dreaming big and plan just small steps and goals in front of you. Take action to reach them. Once reached, plan small steps again. By the way, achieving goals releases dopamine - another “feel good” hormone. Step-by-step, you will realize your big dream is becoming a realistic achievement.
Wellbeing is big, but possible. One last tip, and probably the most important one: be kind to yourself, be on your side, don’t resist your nature, walk in your own pace and you will know exactly what you need for your own wellbeing.