The Irish Life ‘Health of the Nation 2022’ report launched last week revealed some interesting findings about the importance of health and wellbeing in Ireland today.
The most recent ‘State of the Nation’ research provides new insights regarding how COVID-19 has impacted the wellbeing and health of the Irish population. The consequences of the rapid and extreme changes in lifestyle from 2020 to early 2021 arising from the pandemic ‘are far-reaching and likely to have ripple effects for many years to come’.
The impact on mental health ‘has been an undisputed health consequence for many however, the changes in our lives since the arrival of the Covid-19 pandemic, have resulted in physical, emotional and social challenges, the long-term consequences of which we’ve only just begun to understand’.
The research showcases the changes in health and lifestyle factors and compares them with findings collected pre-Covid. Overall results are mixed.
Nutritionally, we are eating better, with an increase in fruit and vegetable portions consumed daily. Overall we are exercising less, more socially isolated and more stressed. The increased importance placed by people on ‘work life balance’ is significant.
Work life balance has become notably more important in the day-to-day life of Irish adults, with 47% of respondents saying it was the most important aspect of their current role or job type followed by salary (30%); job satisfaction (14%); flexible working from home arrangements (13%) and career and development prospects (7%).
Generally when people raise work life balance as an issue – they are normally not happy with one of them.
Like wellbeing, the formula for balance is not ‘one size’. Balance will look different to different people. It is more of a feeling than a unique formula. People will feel a better balance when they are happy with how their lives are moving and feel their needs are being met day to day.
Having a handle on their different pillars of wellbeing will also affect their internal balance and give a feeling of being in control and on top of things. Physical, mental, social, emotional, financial, spiritual and digital wellbeing all have a part in it.
When people are spending time on what really matters to them and what they care about, they will have a stronger ability to bounce back to balance when stressed. When they are spending their time doing things that feeds their heart and that they love, the same applies.
The research also showed that In terms of ‘life priorities’ and what really matters to people - almost all parents consider the health of their children the most important thing in their life, followed by their own physical health and then their mental health. Of less importance in the research was being well paid in your job, being well thought of in your career, looking well and going on holidays’
In general although mixed the report indicates the need for an increased need to focus on wellbeing – in the workplace and otherwise and we all have our part in that.
Keeping wellbeing and balance front of mind will be even more important going forward as the impact of the pandemic and the impact of different world problems and constant change plays out.
When we are more stressed in life, it is even important to take positive action to counter stress and boost wellbeing so that we can maintain the right balance in our lives. If we don’t have positive coping strategies that boost wellbeing, we can easily end up resorting to negative coping strategies which pose even greater challenges for our health and wellbeing over time.