Why is Well-Being More Important Than Just Being HealthyWhen we think about health, our first thoughts often lean towards avoiding illness: staying free from colds, beating back chronic diseases, or healing injuries. Yet, those of us who pay attention to our body, mind, and spirit intuitively know there is far more to a fulfilling life than merely surviving without ailments. True well-being encompasses not only physical health but also psychological, emotional, and social dynamics that enrich our lives and communities.

We are not machines. If you want to see how well a machine is running, you check all the parts and objectively measure them. This joint bends to 90 degrees. This engine has 1000 RPM. If you check off all the boxes, that machine gets a clean bill of health and can be expected to perform its purpose. But not us. We are more complex. Avoiding sickness is not enough to make sure we are able to do everything we want to do.

Understanding Well-Being Beyond Health

The idea that “being well” is way more than just not being sick seems obvious to those of us outside of the medical and academic world. The challenge facing people in those worlds is that they have to focus on big groups of people and the treatments they study have to be easily proved to be effective. That makes it really hard to measure how “off” you might feel.

After seeing a few years of practicing, most medical professionals come to the same realization, well-being is so much more than just the one aspect of health that I help with. That is why PTs end up being pseudo-therapists or simply shoulders to cry on. Family Medicine docs end up trying to quickly tell you the 100 things you should be doing better: sleep, exercise, practicing mindfulness, spending time with family and friends, not working so hard, taking a vacation… you get the idea.

Well-being is a hard concept to conceptualize because it is so individual. What you need to have ideal well-being is different from what the guy who sped past you on the interstate today needs. While it is true that your specific needs might be unique to you, we all have well-being needs that generally fall into the following six categories:

  1. Autonomy: Autonomy involves having the personal freedom to make choices and control one’s own life. This aspect of well-being is about self-determination and being able to pursue one’s goals without undue influence from external forces (Ryff & Keyes, 1995).
  1. Environmental Mastery: This dimension reflects the ability to effectively manage and navigate one’s environment, including the ability to create a context suitable for personal needs and values. It involves adapting to varying situations and making the most out of environmental opportunities (Ryff & Keyes, 1995).
  1. Personal Growth: Personal growth is a key component of well-being, emphasizing development, and self-improvement. It includes realizing one’s potential and growing as a person in response to experiences and life challenges.
  1. Positive Relations with Others: Maintaining positive, meaningful relationships with others is a vital aspect of well-being. This includes having supportive, loving, and rewarding relationships with friends and family, which provide emotional support and enhance life satisfaction.
  1. Purpose in Life: Having a sense of direction and feeling that life is meaningful are crucial for psychological well-being. This involves goals, intentions, and a sense of contributing to something greater than oneself.
  1. Self-Acceptance: This aspect involves a positive evaluation of oneself and one’s past life. It encompasses a sense of contentment with who one is, including acceptance of personal limitations and past experiences.

Your physical and mental health impact all six of these areas. Managing these areas is frankly sometimes outside of our individual skill sets.

At Gulf Coast Integrative Health, our goal is to be your medical team to provide the expert help you need to manage all six areas of well-being. If you are looking for help in improving your overall well-being, come and see us. We are excited to help you get started down the path of optimal well-being.

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