Wellbeing and Photography
Here I'll be exploring what wellbeing is, how it can be affected, and how photography and being outdoors can help improve our physical and mental health, but first, what is wellbeing:
Simply put wellbeing is feeling well - whatever well means to any one individual. There are five main aspects of wellbeing: physical health, emotional health, social, spiritual, and intellectual. Experiencing good physical and mental health, having a sense of purpose, being satisfied with your life and feeling fulfilled are all key indicators of high levels of wellbeing. Chronic illness, socioeconomic problems, trauma, emotional and physical abuse can have a significant impact on your levels of wellbeing leading to a downward spiral into a long-term negative state of not only mind but body. There is a comprehensive body of research showing poor mental health affects physical health and can shorten your life through increased risks to cancer, heart disease, stress, poor lifestyle choices and relationship difficulties. Our wellbeing is therefore critical to the quality of our lives and how we deal with the things that life will inevitably throw at us all. People with positive wellbeing often have greater resilience to illness, negative life events, and the plethora of problems modern life brings with it.
Kadampa Buddhist monk
Improving our wellbeing
I've briefly outlined the various components of wellbeing, how it can be impacted, and the importance of positive wellbeing for all of us. So how can we improve our wellbeing? I'm glad you asked as I've got a few ideas. Let's look at the five dimensions of wellbeing:
Right from the get-go I'll acknowledge my addiction to hard physical training which, even to this day and despite countless injuries and operations, shows no sign of waning. Endorphins and adrenaline are my drugs of choice, and I credit staying as fit as is humanly possible with helping save my life when I was acutely unwell and suicidal with my PTSD. Physical wellbeing for me, like it is for many people, is completely interlinked with my mental wellbeing - and vice-versa. You can't look after one dimension of your wellbeing and ignore the others. What we're aiming for here is what's called a holistic approach to becoming and staying well. Holism looks at the whole system that is us rather than one particular isolated aspect; it aims to make us healthier by looking at the five dimensions I've previously mentioned instead of focusing on the symptoms of say a disease or disability.
We all have different parameters for what good physical health means to us as individuals, and this will vary as we progress through life and become older. That said most would agree positive physical health would include being well enough to get through our daily activities of life (eating, bathing, looking after our homes, getting something positive done in our day) in a way that was pain free and didn't leave us exhausted.