"Wellness tourism" is one of the fastest-growing sectors in travel, accounting for 6.5 percent of all global tourism. The fact that people are hopping on planes in pursuit of wellness isn't surprising. It's critical to every facet of a good life--not just our bodies and minds, but also our social lives, careers, personal finances, and the environment.
This is evidenced by the beneficial impact of well-being programs, which has been analyzed in hundreds of research papers. One study, for example, worked with 200,000 well-being program participants and found that five of seven health risks improved after one year.
In addition, growing evidence shows workplace wellness programs drive many long-term positive behavioral changes, including improvements to nutrition, sleep, and productivity, along with reductions in alcohol and drug use, stress, and absenteeism. True, not all wellness programs boast immediate results. But it's clear that there's potential where there's a high-quality program and a motivated employee.
To be successful in all of the roles you play--founder, colleague, parent, book club organizer, etc.--you need to take a holistic approach to your well-being by focusing on these three areas.
1. Prioritize your mental health.
Aside from the most debilitating physical illnesses, the cornerstone of all wellness is one's mental health. That's because all actions come from our state of mind, and an ordered, adaptive, and healthy mindset can make the difference between poor decisions and good ones, choices that can determine so many other aspects of overall wellness. This is no less true in the workplace. Perhaps that's why the World Health Organization recently moved to identify burnout as a syndrome rather than simply as a state of being exhausted. It's clear your mental well-being has a serious impact on your ability to perform in your various roles.
To foster mental wellness, you could practice mindfulness, a simple approach to being fully present through meditation, observation, or even making art. It's an easy way to practice focusing one's attention (often in short supply in today's overly busy world) as well as learning to free one's mind of unnecessary concerns. Joining a book club can also boost your mood. Multiple studies have found that reading can decrease symptoms of depression. Of course, if you're struggling with depression, anxiety, or another mental illness, talk to your doctor to address it. Counseling can help you combat issues that result from mental illness.
2. Improve your health literacy.
Obviously, physical wellness is crucial to being your best self at home and at work. A great way to improve it is by increasing your health literacy. "In the past three centuries, we dramatically improved reading literacy in the U.S. and around the world and transformed society. In this century, improving health literacy can have the same effect," argues Munjal Shah, co-founder and CEO of Health IQ.
While the company's 50 state online quiz can help you gauge your current level of health literacy, you should strive to expand your knowledge on a continual basis. Ask thoughtful questions of your health care providers to better understand your medical history and current health status. Also, be open and honest about your health when discussing it with professionals. Even if you think the answer to a question is something you should already know, ask the question anyway. And don't ever leave a doctor's office in a state of confusion: Keep asking questions until you get an explanation that doesn't require a medical degree to understand.
3. Nurture your emotional intelligence.
Your emotional quotient (EQ) is like an IQ score but for emotional intelligence. A scientific paper published this year views EQ as even more important than IQ, because EQ equips you to flourish rather than just exist in the world. Cultivating your emotional intelligence is crucial if you want to succeed--not just in your personal life and relationships but in business, too. EQ encompasses recognizing, regulating, and motivating emotions, as well as feeling empathy for others and channeling that through effective people skills. A high EQ will help you influence others in the workplace.
To nurture your EQ, pausing before speaking is a good first step. This may seem obvious, but many people fear the sometimes awkward silence that results from taking a minute to truly think before speaking. Get comfortable with the silence. Doing so will allow you to reflect on what others have said and attempt to see things from their point of view, which will go a long way toward promoting harmony with your colleagues. Take a cue from comedian Craig Ferguson and ask yourself three questions before you speak: Does this need to be said? Does this need to be said by me? And does this need to be said by me now? Adopting this simple technique can improve your EQ and ultimately your overall well-being.
Wellness tourism may be wonderful for those able to book passage to Asia, but in day-to-day living, there are plenty of steps you can take to build a strong foundation of wellness. By taking a holistic approach to improving your well-being, you'll be sure to see results in more than one area of your life.