4 Wellbeing Principles
Your health and wellbeing foundation
Barriers to change
Our own behaviour has the biggest influence over our health and wellbeing. However, making lifestyle and behavioural changes can be very challenging, and we often come up against personal and environmental barriers that prevent us from moving forward.
This led us to develop the 4 Wellbeing Principles – EAT, MOVE, BREATHE, LOVE – 4 interwoven elements which are the foundation for creating a sustainable, healthier and more fulfilling life.
Wellbeing is a state of balance, and from our work and research we discovered the 4 Principles are at the foundation of this. They’re the cornerstones of health.
Each principle is a crucial part of staying healthy, but working on only one is not enough. For sustainable wellbeing it’s essential that the 4 Wellbeing Principles work in harmony, as this creates the balance. When we eat well, we have the energy to move freely; when we breathe consciously, we’re able to react to emotional triggers in a positive way. When the 4 Wellbeing Principles are aligned, we find equilibrium in our life.
The 4 Wellbeing Principles
Wellbeing Principle #1: Eat
Good nutrition can help you feel nourished on all levels and improve your daily life.
You are what you eat
One of life’s great pleasures is food. It has the power to bring us together, the power to nourish and comfort. What, and how, we eat is integral to our health and wellbeing. The food we eat affects us on every level, influencing every cell, tissue and physiological function in our body. Food provides us with the building blocks for growth, cell renewal and repair, for energy and vitality and the nutritional cofactors for every single body function. Food is essential for life and for creating a healthy mind, body and heart.
Diet, and our gut microbiome (an amazing ecosystem that lives within us) plays a huge role in managing inflammation, which is a key factor in chronic illness. A healthy gut microbiome helps to control inflammation by keeping the immune system working in balance and by keeping the number of unhelpful bacteria in check. One way to keep our gut healthy is to eat anti-inflammatory foods, such as the Mediterranean-style diet, filled with plenty of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes, as well as healthy fats.
"The food you eat can be either the safest and most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison." – Ann Wigmore
Reconnect with your food
One of the problems with our modern approach to eating is a disconnect between where our food comes from and what we eat. We rely more and more on convenience and processed foods, and often aren’t aware of what we’re putting in our bodies or how it’s actually grown or made. Our relationship with food has an enormous impact on our wellbeing and in our modern, busy lives with confusing and conflicting advice from the media, it’s no surprise many of us feel lost.
"There is no love sincerer than the love of food." – George Bernard Shaw
Make simple changes
But the good news is it’s easier than we think to make changes in the way we eat that can have a noticeable impact on our health and wellbeing. A few simple changes can easily become habitual and good habits lead to a healthier, happier life.
"Diet is the essential key to all successful healing" – Joseph Raynauld Raymond
Wellbeing Principle #2: Move
‘Move to live, live to move.’ Discover the power of movement to create vitality in your life.
Optimising our physical vitality is simple: we need to move more and we need to move with awareness. Moving more leads to a longer and happier life. It reduces the risk of major illnesses by up to 50% and lowers the risk of early death by up to 30%. And it’s not just our physical health that benefits – moving more can also improve our energy levels, mood, self esteem and sleep quality.
It’s also really important to notice how we move and to move more mindfully. This includes being aware of our posture, keeping our spine straight when sitting, standing or walking, and noticing if we’re pushing too hard when stretching or lifting weights, which could cause damage.
"Take care of your body, it’s the only place you have to live." – Jim Rohn
Avoid aches and pains
When we don’t move enough we can feel sluggish and tired, and our muscles and soft tissues become tense, dehydrated and shortened, leading to imbalance, lack of elasticity and flexibility. Aches and pains become more likely as there’s no movement to shift toxins from the tissues.
Increase your heart rate
The World Health Organisation recommends that adults aim for 2½ hours of moderate activity each week. Brisk walking, cycling on level ground, gentle dancing and swimming are moderate activities for most people and should raise your heart rate. It’s also important to stay flexible and regular movement practices such as yoga, Pilates, Tai Chi and stretching can help with this, whilst having the added benefit of relaxing the body and calming the mind.
"Consciousness is only possible through change; change is only possible through movement." – Aldous Huxley
Strengthen your mindset
Increasing our stamina helps us to work with the discomfort of challenging us in activities and over time it reduces tiredness and exhaustion. Developing our stamina also strengthens our mindset to deal with life's ongoing challenges.
Listen with curiosity
Moving our bodies with awareness on a regular basis helps us tune in to what’s happening, because our bodies don’t lie. We can learn to listen to our bodies moment to moment and be aware and curious about what’s arising. This helps us become more intuitive, develop inner wisdom and identify and manage tension more easily.
"Much more of the brain is devoted to movement than to language. Language is only a little thing sitting on top of this huge ocean of movement" – Oliver Sacks
Movement and the 4 Wellbeing Principles
Movement is an intrinsic part of the 4 Wellbeing Principles. If we don't eat a healthy balanced diet, we won’t create enough energy to be able to increase our physical capacity. When we exercise we release ‘happy hormones’, which boosts our mood and calms our mind. As we challenge our bodies we also breathe more deeply, and often faster, which brings in more oxygen, releases more carbon dioxide and other toxins, and in turn strengthens our cardiorespiratory system.
Just keep moving
You don’t need to slog away at the gym for hours, or even spend lots of money, in order to move. If you spend most of your day sitting, simply getting up, moving and stretching every hour can be really helpful. Or why not try running up the stairs, or doing a few squats or lunges while waiting for the kettle to boil? The message is simple – just keep moving!
"Movement is a medicine for creating change in a person’s physical, emotional and mental states." – Carol Welch
Wellbeing Principle #3: Breathe
Learn about breathing and the effect it has on your health and wellbeing.
Bathe your cells in oxygen
Breathing is so much more than just inhaling and exhaling. It’s about bathing your cells in oxygen for optimum functioning. It’s about aligning the whole body from head to toe. It’s about reducing pain, invoking a sense of calm, creating mental clarity and enabling you to regulate unpleasant feelings and sensations.
Breathe with awareness
Conscious breathing is about breathing with awareness, connecting to the process, slowing down and regulating the breath. Science is now supporting long-held beliefs about pranayama or ‘yogic breathing’ being able to treat disease and enhance longevity. The physiological effects of slow breathing are finally beginning to reveal their secrets.
"Breath is the bridge which connects life to consciousness, which unites your body to your thoughts." – Thich Nhat Hanh
Increase mental clarity
Breathing more slowly actually helps to oxygenate your cells better than fast breathing, because you access parts of your lungs that don’t usually get exercised, increasing their capacity. When you’re more oxygenated your heart, lungs, brain, vascular and nervous systems all work together in harmony, causing you to feel strong, in control and full of vitality, and giving you the mental clarity to make your best decisions.
Break the cycle
When we breathe slowly, consciously and with awareness, it can be incredibly powerful. We can interrupt our negative thinking patterns and start breaking the cycle of bad habits that can lead to chronic physical symptoms, mental overwhelm and eventually disease. Instead, we move into a calm and relaxed state of self healing.
"Breathe to pause, to make space, to collect your thoughts, to remember, to face the next moment, to choose, and to feel free." – Dido Owlnute
Take control of your health
Conscious breathing takes practice and perseverance, but once mastered it enables you to take control of your own health and wellbeing. The breath is the doorway to self regulating your emotions, changing years of unhealthy patterns and discovering optimal mental health.
"When you own your breath, nobody can steal your peace.” – Anon
Wellbeing Principle #4: Love
Self care is essential to feeling well and relating to others with care and kindness.
Love is a choice
In its simplest form, love is: courage, connection and consciousness. Love is a choice. You make the choice to love, nurture and respect yourself. You choose to see and react to the world from a place of kindness and acceptance. When you choose love for yourself you’re showing those around you your place in this world.
Observe without judgement
Love is giving yourself permission to be imperfect. Imperfection is the seat of growth, learning, and forgiveness. Once you accept imperfection in yourself you can observe it in others without judgement.
"Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we'll ever do." – Brené Brown
Choose a different life
When you start on the journey to better health you’re choosing a different life to the one you’re experiencing right now, one that hasn’t served you til now. Maybe because you don’t have the energy, vitality, comfort or peace that seems just out of reach. If you have deep physical pains or mental anguish, a better life can seem unachievable.
Create self care habits
Love begins with the development of your own self care habits and, by defining these, you’re creating your own lifestyle choices. Developing effective self care strategies is how you regain your power, and you can use the other 3 principles to support you through nutrition, movement and breathing.
"Everyone needs love, without love we cannot continue." – Thich Nhat Hanh
Develop self compassion
Effective self care starts with self compassion – being kinder to yourself, knowing you’re not alone in suffering, and harnessing mindfulness in every moment. By developing a stronger sense of self you can begin to reflect, change your perceptions and experience the full spectrum of your emotions. From here your courage can then take you further into self discovery.
"You are allowed to be both a masterpiece and a work in progress simultaneously." – Anon
Reclaim your vitality
Moving into conscious awareness can feel unsettling and vulnerable at first. To do this you need to develop self love, compassion and kindness. You’ll then be able to grow and learn, as situations and feelings arise that ultimately lead to self healing. The 4 Wellbeing Principles and the 10-Step Resilience Programme can help you develop the tools to start afresh with no blame or judgement, to realise all your health goals and begin to feel full of vitality.
"You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection." – Anon