Understanding Well-Being for Myself

What does well-being look like for me?

an abstract watercolor illustration of a tree in the middle of a barren field. the tree has no leaves
Image created via Midjourney

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.