What is Psychological Wellbeing?
Being healthy involves more than just having good physical health (although this is certainly an element) but also encompasses psychological health, which includes mental and emotional wellbeing.
Psychological wellbeing has many dimensions related to how we perceive our life, like social skills, self-acceptance and a belief that we have some control over our circumstances. It is not so much what is happening in the present moment (a fleeting emotion) but our overall outlook and attitude.
“He who lives in harmony with himself lives in harmony with the universe.”
– Marcus Aurelius –
Emotional Intelligence and Psychological Wellbeing
Emotional intelligence is more than being able to handle stress, it is the ability to understand yourself, cope with life’s challenges, and acknowledge and share your feelings (both positive and negative) in a productive manner. It involves an awareness and acceptance of your feelings and reactions rather than denying our emotional responses. When we are aware of our emotions, we have a realistic (and thus positive) view of others, our life circumstances, and ourselves.
We gain emotional intelligence through:
• Being aware of our thoughts and feelings
• Maintaining a positive attitude
• Expressing emotions appropriately and seeking support when necessary
• Accepting mistakes and learning from them
Gaining a higher degree of emotional intelligence results in a more optimistic outlook, greater self-esteem and an increased capacity for empathy. All of this contributes to the improvement of psychological wellbeing.
Six Dimensions of Psychological Wellbeing
The psychologist Carol Ryff wrote extensively about psychological wellbeing, identifying six key interwoven facets, or criteria, which contribute to our quality of life.
These six dimensions of psychological wellbeing are as follows:
1. Self-acceptance: This means accepting yourself, including your body, emotions, thoughts, and past experiences. Having a positive view of yourself, encouraging self-esteem rather than self-criticism and negative judgements – saying nice things about yourself.
2. Environmental Mastery (control over your surroundings): This refers to adapting and dealing with your circumstances and difficult environments – appreciating the journey, seeing positives in your surroundings, overcoming adversity.
3. Personal Growth: In other words, being able to learn from your experiences and reactions, realising you are on a journey, being open to experiences and challenges, viewing your actions objectively, seeing the lessons in life, finding resources for self-improvement.
4. Purpose in Life: So, setting clear and acceptable goals, finding a purpose that will give your life meaning, having direction.
5. Autonomy: Meaning being independent, having choices, being able to make decisions, not being too guided by the opinions of others.
6. Positive relationships: Which involves being able to interact with other people open and sincerely, having bonds with others, maintaining quality relationships, trusting, feeling valued, having empathy.
When things are going well and you feel OK about your life, these six dimensions of psychological wellbeing support one another.
Tips to improve your Psychological Wellbeing
• Find your passion – Find something, be it work-related or a hobby, which motivates you.
• Don’t try to change yourself – Accept what you cannot change. Look for positive things about yourself. Identify your positives and be your own cheer squad
• Surround yourself with positive people – Spend time with people you like and who support and encourage you. – Minimise toxic people and negative relationships.
• See mistakes as opportunities to learn – Not everything turns out as planned. Adapt to your circumstances and deal with frustrations. We are all far from perfect. Try to see the positive side to your own imperfection.
• Try new things – Step out of your comfort zone and explore the unknown. This keeps you active and motivated and makes life interesting…
• Trust in your own potential – Believe in yourself and your immense possibilities. Visualise your goal and start taking small steps towards achieving them.
Remember, it is never too late to cultivate psychological wellbeing. It is all about starting with one small action.
If you would like to discuss strategies to improve your psychological wellbeing give Wellbeing Therapy Space a bell firstname.lastname@example.org
Author: Claire Mansveld of Hey Zeus! Creative