What is wellbeing?
Wellbeing is more than the absence of illness. Wellbeing describes an optimal state of thriving, of doing and being one’s best. It is a complex combination of psychological, social and physical factors – and the aim is to find ways to positively excel in all these areas.
Unsurprisingly, wellbeing is strongly linked to the ability to learn, to adapt to new situations and overall life satisfaction. There are other well evidenced benefits including faster recovery times from illness, higher educational attainment, greater productivity and healthier lifestyle.
Wellbeing does not mean a permanent state of contentment or happiness – experiencing our full range of emotions and managing discomfort is part of life. It is more about developing the resources and skills we need to meet the challenges that life brings us.
Ways to achieve wellbeing
So how can we boost our wellbeing? What practical steps can we take?
Martin Seligman*, father of the Positive Psychology movement developed a theory of wellbeing in his book, Flourish, in which he identifies five pathways to human flourishing — positive emotion, engagement, good relationships, meaning and purpose in life, and accomplishment, cumulatively called PERMA. Subsequent researchers have added a sixth dimension: H for Health (or sometimes V for Vitality) because being nourished, fit and well rested is a foundation for all the other dimensions.
For each of these pathways we can develop practices that work for staff and for children to develop their resourcefulness and their capacity to flourish.
The dictionary definition of the word ‘flourish’ is to grow or develop in a healthy or vigorous way, especially as the result of a particularly congenial environment. (Oxford Dictionary)
Promoting wellbeing is not just down to the individual – we need to create the conditions where everyone’s wellbeing is a priority. Our approach to wellbeing is a holistic one. We believe that the secret to happy, flourishing children is happy, flourishing staff. So workplace wellbeing goes hand in hand with child wellbeing.
Everyone is a winner when we create the environment for wellbeing in nurseries and childcare settings: children, their families and your staff. Flourishing staff know how to achieve high wellbeing for themselves, how to encourage it in others and how to model it to the children they work with. The virtuous circle of a wellbeing approach is that flourishing staff teams are linked to better outcomes for children, better career progression, recruitment and retention and a happier environment for all.
Our vision for all Early Years settings is that they are places where the children and staff feel enthusiastic and appreciated, where there’s a culture of kindness, where there’s collaboration with the wider community, and where children are learning about eating well and being active.
When these things come together that’s when the magic happens: we call it the Magic Triangle. The Triangle connects children and families, early years professionals and the wider community. Early Years leaders develop the capacity of people to:
• operate from their strengths, not from their weaknesses
• learn and apply learning
• model and enable healthy choices
How do we do this?
Strengths-based: we build on people’s strengths rather than their weaknesses and we advocate appreciative approaches to development and feedback – celebrating what is working well rather than focusing on what is wrong or not working.
Learning for change: We support and mentor people to learn from their work every day and to talk about how children are learning. We embed a culture of learning that empowers staff and enables everyone to flourish.
Healthy choices: We believe that health and wellbeing should be at the heart of every Early Years organisation, starting with staff who model healthy choices in their work and in their own lives.
The PurpleBee approach is to embed wellbeing throughout the organisation through induction, training, mentoring, teamwork and leadership. Wellbeing is about excellence. For individuals this means they are flourishing, meeting their potential and reaching optimum health; in organisations it means they are innovating and reaching beyond compliance and ‘good enough’. We won’t settle for surviving, we aim for thriving and exceeding expectations for our children and families, for our staff and for the wider community.
*Seligman, M. (2011) Flourish: A new understanding of happiness and well-being – and how to achieve them, London: Nicholas Brealey, p.25
Linda will be presenting a seminar at the Childcare and Education Expo on March 21st 2020 1.45pm – 2.30pm – Putting wellbeing at the heart of your organisation. ‘Does wellbeing sound like a fluffy nice-to-have notion when you are struggling to meet the demands of keeping your staff whilst meeting new Ofsted requirements? Join Linda to learn how promoting health and wellbeing throughout your setting will breathe back the life and soul of your organisation and the people who work there. You’ll retain your staff and exceed Ofsted requirements along the way but, most importantly, you will play a key role in halting the obesity crisis and in setting firm foundations for children and families to have healthy, happy lives.’
Also PurpleBee mailing list subscribers will receive a 20% discount code for the Expo Seminars. Registration to the event is free and you will have the option to choose and pay for the seminars at the end of the registration. Register here.