What is wellbeing?
We all know that wellbeing is important. But what does it really mean? The Oxford English Dictionary describes wellbeing as “the state of being comfortable, healthy or happy”. Others simply describe it as “feeling well”.
According to Psychology Today, there are five components to wellbeing: emotional, social, physical, workplace and societal. You need to work on all of these five areas to achieve an overall sense of wellbeing. If you’re high on four but really lacking in one, you’re unlikely to feel completely happy.
If I’m honest, before becoming a mum, I didn’t really give my wellbeing much thought. But boom, having a baby can really throw you all out of whack and you just don’t feel like yourself any more.
What wellbeing means to me
When I started to think about what wellbeing means to me, I jotted down these ideas…
- Feeling happy, healthy and content
- Feeling relaxed – not stressed or anxious
- Eating well – nourishment
- Getting plenty of rest
- Doing work I enjoy
- Family and friendship
What about you? What does wellbeing mean to you? Do you have similar ideas on your list?
Looking after your wellbeing is especially important for mums. We tend to neglect ourselves as caring for our new baby takes over – which is totally natural of course. But there comes a point where you must make time for you too.
Our wellbeing is always going to be a work-in-progress but as long as the intention is there to look after ourselves more, then we’re on the right track.
Here, I’m going to share three things that I believe have really helped me to improve my own wellbeing since becoming a mum. I’m hoping that they will help you too.
Three ways to improve your wellbeing
Learn to relax
Yes, that’s right mama, it’s back to school (sort of) for you. You’re going to have to learn to relax. I’m pretty sure that as soon as you have a baby, ‘relaxing’ becomes a completely alien concept. You constantly feel a bit on edge – I mean, you’ve got a mini human to look after for the rest of your life. Will you ever be able to relax again?
For the sake of your sanity, when you feel ready and able, you will learn to relax a little again. It’s going to take a bit of practice but you’ll get there, I promise.
The best thing I did was spend a solo spa day at Champneys in Henlow (which has recently been refurbished and looks amazing by the way). Ethan was eight months old and I hadn’t left him for more than a couple of hours before, let alone a whole day. As much as I was looking forward to my spa day, I also felt quite anxious. I knew that I needed time for myself but also, I didn’t really want to leave him.
I reminded myself that he was happy and safe, so, feeling rather light with just the one bag (full of MY stuff rather than nappies and wet wipes), I took a deep breath and walked through the doors at Champneys Henlow. And wow, I’m so glad that I did it.
I’ve always loved spa days but since becoming a mum, they’ve taken on a whole new significance.
A whole day to yourself to rest, relax, eat nutritious foods, and exercise (if you want to!). And it’s such a lovely, quiet, serene, child-free environment – a world away from the noise and stress of baby and toddler groups. You don’t even need to do it alone like I did – you could organise a spa day in London with your best girls if you don’t fancy going solo.
As the day went on, I found it easier to relax, to switch off. I realised how much I needed it. Of course, as the day neared to an end (and believe me, I stayed as long as I could), my head inevitably started to fill up again. But as I had had some time away from it all, my to-do list somehow felt a bit more manageable.
So spend some time learning to relax – whether it’s a spa day, or just taking some time to read one of your favourite books curled up in a comfy corner. You could also try practising some mindfulness and meditation techniques. It will do you the world of good.
Make meaningful connections
Motherhood can be a bit lonely and isolating. Your whole world has changed, and you’re in a bit of a bubble – especially in those first few months. I remember feeling a bit like I’d been run over by a bus. Waves of overwhelm would wash over me and I would think, “What have we done? We can’t cope with this!”
What really helped me was the support of my NCT friends. We were so lucky to be put with an amazing group of people, who we still see nearly six years on. Not as often of course, as normal life has resumed, but I know we will all be friends for life.
You need a tribe, a gang, a crew – whatever you want to call it. You will all need each other’s support at some point – most likely at 3am when you hit up your WhatsApp group desperately hoping someone else is awake. When you’re finding breastfeeding hard. When your baby won’t take a bottle. When your toddler is having screaming tantrums. When you just really need a night out and a glass (or three) of wine.
If you didn’t do a pre-natal course, there are plenty of places for you to meet other like-minded mums.
Baby and toddler groups are fantastic, as you’ll see familiar faces week after week. Your local Children’s Centre is a great place to meet other people – we used to go to lots of their events and they were brilliant.
You may also be lucky to have events aimed specifically at mums running in your local area – either talks or just social events. Even if you rock up to these solo, you will always find someone to talk to. If you hit it off, maybe you can go to the next one together!
And don’t forget that when your child starts school, you’ll also get chatting to plenty of other mums and dads at the school gate.
Once you start building up a supportive and fun group of friends, you will feel much happier. Community is so important.
Invest in your health
You look after everyone around you but what about you? You mustn’t neglect yourself.
And I’m talking mental and physical health here. If something isn’t right, put a plan in place to make it better.
I neglected to exercise for a good year or two when I had Ethan. But then I started to suffer from terrible back pain, which was my wake-up call that I had to make some lifestyle changes.
Finding time to exercise isn’t easy, I know. I recently wrote a post about how I’m trying to commit to exercising more regularly. But if you are determined to feel better and invest in your own health, you can find the time – even if it’s just once a week. I feel so much better – mind and body – when I exercise.
Is there a class you could with a friend? Often if there are two or more of you, you’ll be more likely to turn up. And it ticks your social box off too – so a double boost for your wellbeing.
Mental health is a complex topic which I won’t go into detail about here – but if you feel as though you are struggling, please do speak somebody about it and seek some support. There are also fantastic books you can read that may help. TV presenter and life coach, Anna Williamson, has written a lot about anxiety. Her first book ‘Breaking Mad’ has helped many people and in it, she shares a lot of her personal experiences with anxiety. Her second book, ‘Breaking Mum and Dad’ focuses specifically on parenting anxiety.
Finally, are you eating right? Healthy meals can tend to go out the window when you’re a new parent. But when you’re ready, try to make sure you’re filling your body with nutritious stuff – at least some of the time! I know you don’t have a lot of time to be faffing about but there are so many quick and healthy recipes out there now. I love recipes by Joe Wicks, aka The Body Coach, but there are plenty of others to choose from.
Knowing that I’m putting good stuff into my body makes such a difference to how I feel. I’m no saint of course – and I eat most things in moderation – but make an effort to fuel yourself right and you’ll feel much more able to take on the day ahead.
Share your thoughts
What does wellbeing mean to you? Do you feel comfortable, healthy and happy? Which aspects of wellbeing do you think you need to work on the most? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post in collaboration with Champneys. All words and opinions are my own.