Is Wellbeing for everyone or only for Millennials – and does it have to come at a price…is that price worth paying?

I read an article the other day about how younger generations are more interested in work-life balance, wellbeing, sustainability and ethical issues than they are in money. Apparently younger workers increasingly favour free time over wages. Others, perhaps those of us who are older and started work in different times, find this approach somewhat challenging. Attitudes and approaches to career making, job taking, being in work, being at work, having a meaningful impact have changed and some of us are struggling with new meanings and new knowledge, different ways of living life.

As more of the younger generation enters the workforce and their disposable income increases, (perhaps as they are forced through the economy to stay at home longer?) the wellbeing industry is likely to benefit. Do younger people pay so much more attention to wellbeing than their older peers? Or do they approach wellbeing in different ways to the elderly in years? There are so many moving parts to the topic of wellness – what indeed is wellness if the mind is out of sorts? The engine could work perfectly but there is no attitude of mind over matter, one could be miserable. Each one of us has a choice, but what is the excuse if any when we all have such different upbringings giving us so many different choices.

If you have a wellbeing brand which is targeted at the younger market, those that aspire, those that attend Balance Festival and BeFit and Wanderlust perhaps the news is all good. But what about older generations? Do we just not bother with them because they appear to pay less attention to wellbeing? Or are they living a different wellbeing? On the golf course attendance is declining. There is a desire to have more women play the sport. In the local swimming pool do we simply not see the elderly whom regularly swim for health. They do live often in a different time zone.

Should spend more time trying to engage and educate all consumers as to the benefit of wellbeing products and services. This is not just for the purposes of improving and diversifying revenue streams, but – more importantly – because we all need to focus on our mental and physical health. The This Girl Can campaign last year spent a fortune on TV campaigns but with what outcomes? Mel Bound from This Mum Runs is literally teaching people to run once more and what a fabulous impact she is having as a Facebook ambassador. Yogi Bare uses the brilliance of the Instagram community and sales momentum to get people into yoga, combined with myriad support for crushed fruit providers and coconut lovers I have recently spent time at BeFit event in London – the weather was wonderful and attendance low. Let’s hope the fanatics were running in the park.

While younger generations have grown up with the conversation about wellbeing very much going on around them, people over the age of about 35 grew up in different times, when talking about how we feel was taboo, and things like self care completely unheard of. Yet today these generations are expected to live a much longer time. Not I note a better life necessarily. The fact that older people don’t necessarily prioritise wellbeing and publicise it – might be a cause for concern, and something people in the wellness industry would do well to address. (lull times in gyms struggling to fight against the tide of interest in ultra and trail running, outdoor activities starting to make a noise, all this has to be good for the health of the nation.) Fresh air and a walk are after all free to all and the maintenance of mobility, the improvement of the general fitness of the nation will all start first with a step.

I sweat. I train, I don’t jog; I run. So what? I am driven by the faint and completely ridiculous but I hope worthwhile thread I hang onto that if I put in just that much more effort and look after my mental and physical engine then I might just be doing enough to stave off illness. I want to live to a ripe and well old age. I am not going to allow my body to become decrepid and poorly balanced. I am working to stay stronger for longer and that for me is simply common sense. Sometimes annoying, often inconvenient, definitely takes motivation and not always joyful but I crack on biking, running, doing whatever with intent to breathe well and to be healthy. I still sometimes feel stressed but I work hard to be positive, mind over matter. If I have had a bad day, I run it off, at least some positive outcome, and I always feel better post the effort.

Why don’t others bother?

In a very real and commercially proven not so great way, our country as a whole simply cannot afford for huge swathes of people to become ill with stress-related conditions that have been proven to be preventable. My husband and I were talking about the value of fresh food over buying pre-cooked where often the value of so much of the goodness is gone. Is it really not affordable to have fresh each day?

In 2016/17 23.5 million working days were lost due to work-related stress and according to the American Institute of Stress, stress is the underlying cause of 60 per cent of all human illnesses and disease. Stress comes in a multitude of manners affecting each of us differently. I do not choose “to be stressed,” indeed again I have chosen to use all my powers to fight stress and in doing so I acknowledge most certainly the distainful existence of negative times. I even fight stress…but I also know I get less stressed and I use workout tactics and wellness approaches to drive bad habits out of my own personal life. This weekend in a low moment of annoyance I bought a fruit juice (probably full of some wrong sugars as well as right), instead of a chocolate bar, hoorah. Perhaps I was not that stressed afterall.

Sixty per cent should be for all a worrying statistic, don’t you think? By now we all know that how we feel mentally can profoundly affect our physical health. That sixty per cent figure includes numerous conditions which can result from stress including colds, asthma, stomach ulcers, post-traumatic stress disorder, irritable bowel syndrome, depression and eczema – as well as more obviously stress-related acute conditions. I have said in my time, I eat when I am stressed and yet I refuse to be stressed. Am I perhaps a little mad. Do the elderly talk of stress? Are they just cracking on and have the resilience gene brought from hardship that perhaps others do not.

Millennials are more likely to make the link between their overall wellbeing and the onset of physical illness – and more likely to address this with wellbeing related tactics such as basic self care or taking a “mental health day.” I am informed there is indeed a whole generation of individuals referred to as the “worried well.” Generation X-ers on the other hand may not really consider the link between a lack of self care practices and the onset of illness. They also may not necessarily look to wellbeing products and services as a way of staving off either physical or mental illness.

This is a real shame, and as employers and leaders – no matter what industry our business is in – it is up to us to ensure we promote wellbeing in the workplace. For those of us whose business is within the wellness industry, this becomes even more important – after all, we must be seen to practice what we preach. Whatever the outcome, breathe well; it is free! Walk often; also free, and be inclined to make better decisions for your own entirely selfish reasons as you have to care for yourself before you care for others.

Written by Vicky Charles

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