Free Download – Wellbeing Wheel Poster
As mentioned in Dr Tom Nehmy’s recent columns for the Advertiser and Sunday Mail, the Wellbeing Wheel is a tool for self-management of one’s overall wellbeing – the core of your mental health.
As an organisation that has been at the forefront of peer-reviewed scientific research into the prevention of psychological disorders, Healthy Minds is in a unique position to propose a new way of thinking about wellbeing. Our Wellbeing Wheel represents an integrated approach to preventing psychological disorders, remediating problems, and enhancing wellbeing. The Wellbeing Wheel includes six evidence-based factors that encompass the full spectrum of psychological functioning. We acknowledge that mental health is on a continuum: at one end is disorder and disease, and at the other end is focus, energy, motivation and fulfilling potential.
How to generate your wellbeing score
The Wellbeing Wheel is designed for subjective self-assessment, meaning it does not rely on standardised norms to be useful: the usefulness is in your ability to self-assess the relative strength of six key wellbeing indicators, and then generate strategies to improve your own self-ratings.
Give yourself a score out of ten in each of these domains. From there, it is possible to start planning pragmatic and personally relevant tasks to enhance your wellbeing.
Here are the factors:
The primary relationships segment refers to the people you live with, spend most of your time with, and/or who are ‘closest’ to you in an emotional sense – for better or worse. Relationships provide a huge amount of context to our experiences of life, and influence our wellbeing greatly.
If the relationships we have with those closest to us are healthy, encouraging and supportive, they will enhance our wellbeing; if not, they will detract from it.
Biological Needs and Health Status
Our diet, the amount of sleep we get, consuming enough water and not too much caffeine or alcohol are essential aspects of wellbeing. On the extreme end, very poor diet or the excessive consumption of unhealthy foods and drinks will result in serious physical health problems including illness and chronic disease. Some people are also highly sensitive to foods such as sugar and caffeine and therefore experience mood swings and peaks and troughs in their energy levels. Sex, medication compliance, and regular visits to the GP will influence our score.
Exercise gets a whole segment for itself, despite seeming as if it should come under the Biological Needs segment above. Why? Because it has such a big influence on mood management and stress relief. Research has found that for a certain subset of the population, vigorous exercise several times a week can have a major mood effect similar to or greater than that of antidepressant medications. It discharges stress, increases our physical capacity for daily life, and causes the release of endorphins that make us feel good. For any mildly depressed client I see, the first thing I get them to do is to increase their activity levels, and one great way to do this is to simply exercise. Exercise will also positively affect sleep, metabolism, and will lower risk for many potential health problems.
It is probably not surprising that the psychological skills segment is the one people find the most difficult to rate. And this is the area in which we spend most of our time training others – from corporate audiences to high-school students.
The psychological skills I am referring to include concepts like helpful thinking; techniques for managing emotions; relating to ourselves in an encouraging and compassionate way; being flexible; understanding and prioritising personal values; being willing to tolerate discomfort; and more.
This segment is the most challenging to self-rate. As a helpful prompt, try to give your rating based on your best impression of:
- How well you ‘manage’ strong emotions. Do you feel like you can make good decisions when having a strong emotional reaction to something? Do you find, in hindsight, that your responses fit the situation well or do you over- or -under-react? Do you get ‘stuck’ in states of ‘negative’ emotion or do you tend to bounce back quickly.
- How accurate your thinking is. Do you tend to predict disaster that never seems to eventuate? Or do you under-estimate risk? Would your friends describe you as ‘level-headed’ and ‘flexible’?
- How you relate to yourself. Are you harsh and hard-hearted in what you ‘say’ to yourself, as in self-talk? Or are you an encouraging coach who employs constructive criticism but also acknowledges what you do well.
- The quality of decisions you make. If someone was viewing your life as a movie, would they say you have navigated life well? Would they say you have demonstrated an ability to learn from the past, and become ‘wiser’ over time?
It doesn’t matter if your rating feels like a guess – that’s all it needs to be.
Fun, Interests and a social life
A healthy life is a balanced life. And no matter how driven or focused you are, it is part of being human that we need to take time away from work and goal-directed activities to recuperate, focus on pleasurable things for their own sake and enjoy social connections and pastimes.
Apart from your primary relationships, this segment also nurtures that human need to feel connected to, and supported by others.
Values, Meaning and Purpose
This segment pertains to who we are, and why we are here. What gets you out of bed in the morning?
Your sense of purpose is the broader meaning with which you engage in life. Is it your work? Is it your role as a parent, grandparent or carer? Or is it volunteering your time for a cause that is important to you and goes beyond your own needs to give something back to society as a whole?
For some people, having a spiritual or religious practice and belief-set provides a context that both soothes and drives them in their life’s direction. Others still might be driven by a large goal that they are working hard to bring to fruition. Whatever the cause, that sense of meaning and purpose, of having a ‘role’ of importance and relevance, is an essential component of overall wellbeing.
Likewise, living according to what we value is an intrinsic part of living in a purposeful way. Beyond enjoying good feelings, living according to your values provides a life rich in satisfaction and contentment that goes far beyond the pleasure of being comfortable, feeling ‘happy’, or leading a low-stress life.
What to do with your score
Once you’ve rated each segment around the Wellbeing Wheel, take a look at the scores in relation to each other. Which segment is your strongest? Which is your least strong? Have a think about your less well-developed segments and come up with 3 specific strategies to enhance your number on one or more of your segments. That is, 3 pragmatic things you can do that are likely to cause you to score higher on one or more of the segments if you were to conduct a wellbeing audit using the wheel in a couple of weeks or a month’s time.
Make sure at least one of your self-generated wellbeing strategies should be something very easy. Set yourself up for success!
We recommend that you revisit your Wellbeing Wheel regularly to see how your scores have changed and to help you manage your wellbeing like a personal project.
Remember: rather than having the goal of experiencing positive emotions (which can be fleeting, as emotions are designed to come and go), focusing on your wellbeing is the golden key to overall emotional self-management. When your wellbeing is high, positive emotions will naturally follow, and you will notice yourself being more resilient in the face of challenging times. You will also have unlocked the secret to the very foundation of your quality of life: to be well, and able to perform at your best.