Someone I know recently asked for help on Facebook with an article she was writing. She wanted to know: What does "well-being" mean to you? What does it look like?
The responses were broad, and ranged from work-life balance, to stability, to exercising and eating well, to a sense of serenity and being present.
I pondered this for a few days. There have been many points over the past few years when I have felt "unwell" or that my "well-being" was taking a serious beating. I was anxious, stressed, uncertain about the future, eating poorly, and putting myself last.
Back in March of 2016 — a month after Iris died — I wrote:
Wanting to take care of myself is one thing. Having the energy and stamina to do so is another. While I did pay close attention to my mental health, knowing that I have a family and work that depend on me, there are other aspects that I have admittedly let crumble.
Over the next few months, I worked so hard to take care of myself. In a way, it took my mind away from my grief, if only for a few minutes. Yoga. Walks. Writing. I was anticipating (hopeful) that I would be pregnant again. I knew that I had little control over the outcome, but also wanted to be in the best shape that I could be: both physically and mentally. Once pregnant, my only mantra became "one day at a time."
After Autumn was born, the care shifted to the necessities of a newborn. My marriage was rocky as Ger dealt with his own anxiety. We put a lot of effort into our relationship, but then the toll was on me personally. In that time, a year or so, I saved little energy for myself.
Which brings me back to "well-being." What does this look like for me?
After contemplating how I would define this, I came up with:
Well-being, for me, is closely related to self-care. I am choosing to take care of myself: physically and mentally. Yoga enhances my physical well-being. Writing, journaling, painting are related to my mental well-being. "Well being" is "being in a good place" and all of those help me to be in a good place. They can pull me back to a good place when I start to drift away from that.
Perhaps the best part of this exercise was defining well being for myself. Being aware of what helps my well-being. Knowing that I will feel crummy when my days revolve around the opposite of those things.
Of course, it is always a fluctuation of highs and lows. But I can recognize what is lacking and try to carve out time for what feeds my well being.