The image of "wellness"

If you think about the term “wellness” you’re more than likely to think active wear, green smoothies, ridiculous yoga poses, cross-fit workouts, natural medicine and remedies, day spas and indulgent retreats in exotic locations.

This image of “wellness” is a big business – in fact, it’s stated as a $3.7 trillion-dollar industry globally in 2015 according to a Global Wellness Industry report.

As large, beautiful and “holistic” as this image of wellness may seem, the reality is that total wellness as a concept is much more than merely physical health, exercise or nutrition.

What is total wellness?

Total wellness is a concept that emphasizes the proactive maintenance and improvement of health and well-being. It’s an approach to wellbeing that incorporates attitudes and activities that prevent stress or disease, improve overall health, enhance quality of life, and bring a person to increasingly optimum levels of well-being.

According to the Gallup Business Journal, there are 5 elements of wellbeing; Career Wellbeing, Social Wellbeing, Financial Wellbeing, Physical and Community Wellbeing.

Whilst others institutions define wellness as having 8 elements: Social, Physical, Emotional., Spiritual, Environmental, Occupational, Intellectual and Financial.

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Whether there are 5 or 8 elements to total wellbeing doesn’t really matter: the point I’m trying to make it that there is much more to total wellness than are marketed, or what we may be told. And that it doesn’t matter how much we spend on nutritional or physical wellness, we cannot have total wellbeing unless we pay attention to and seek balance by integrating all other elements of our individual wellbeing into our lives.

What is financial wellness?

What’s apparent to me in my role as financial adviser, wealth coach and financial literacy advocate is that so often we neglect our financial well-being.

Yet the very health and well-being of our financial affairs underpins nearly every other element of our well-being.

Our finances may influence our career choices, our ability to spend time with our family and friends, or doing the things we love, whether we can join a gym or practice yoga, how much we have to spend on food, healthcare, self-care and other treatments, the type of neighbourhood we live in, our relationship we have and even our self-esteem and level of self-worth.

Our finances are such an integral element of our total wellbeing yet, so often they are ignored, put to one side or handed over to someone else to manage.

Prioritising our Financial Wellness

Financial wellness is a connection of paths – knowledge and action.

Just as we know how our physical wellbeing is reliant on what we eat and how often we move, and our mental wellbeing is reliant on our ability to balance work, life, time and stress in our lives, our financial wellness is our capacity to manage our spending and our saving and our future planning to an extent of reduced stress and increased enjoyment.

Financial wellness is not a destination we arrive at. Nor is it a place of residence. It’s a practice. A balance and regular management of our personality and behaviours, our environment (both internal and external) and the amount of money we have in our lives.

The interaction of all of these elements will ultimately dictate our financial wellbeing or lack of it.

In order to create wellbeing in any area of our lives, we first need to prioritise it. Once we decided it’s important enough for us to dedicate our attention and energy to it, we can begin to make changes and move towards improving it. 

We can then create an awareness around our current situation, habits, attitudes and behaviours and measure our current knowledge and our skills.

I often hear people quote the saying “knowledge is power”, yet knowledge alone (particularly when it comes to our finances, or even our eating habits or relationships) is not enough and it’s certainly not going to deliver the results that we may be searching for.

We need to not only put that knowledge into action, but also create the right environment (internal in our thoughts, habits and self-awareness) and external (in our relationships and support systems) to assist us in creating a state of “wellness”.

Wellness is not static either. It’s a state of being in the present. Whilst it means we’re often better placed to cope with future shocks or changes, it also depends on our constant awareness and action to maintain this state. Our finances are no different. They require our care and attention on an ongoing basis.

Most importantly, financial wellness and ultimately total wellness, is achievable for us all. It’s not something that only a few of us are lucky enough to obtain. I’d love to see more individuals and companies take a more holistic and balanced approach to wellness focusing on all elements (whether it’s 5 or 8)! rather than just our physical health, exercise or nutrition. 

Namaste, Lea xo

The concept of Financial Wellness is at the essence of the programs delivered by my social enterpise Wellthy which delivers the The mindful wealth movement -a six week online course which empowers women with the mindset and skills to better manage their relationship with money. Personal finance concepts are interwoven with principles of well-being, mindfulness, balance and flow and participants are empowered to integrate this knowledge with their own attitudes, beliefs and ultimately behaviours with money.