The Four Elements – Eat, Sweat, Think and Connect – are our framework for how wellness can be approached, maintained and plugged-in to daily life.
The Four Elements are not about a 60-day plan, a special diet, or a quick fix. The guiding principle of The Four Elements is ‘a lifestyle for a lifetime’ – asking yourself, each day, how you considered your own health and wellness for each of the Elements.
Taking the time to pay attention to each Element gives you the ability to take a step back and remove yourself from daily noise. The Four Elements provide a focus on what small steps can be taken to feel better each day – one day at a time.
For too long, the concept of gaining control over what we eat has been enforced by dieting fads, notions of calorie-counting and promises of ‘low fat’ food and ‘tips’ to cheat diets. Such restrictive, short-term concepts have disconnected us from what food really is – a strong relationship to the self and a key element of overall well-being.
Throughout the day, our moments for eating – especially in busy lifestyles – are in danger of being reduced to a quick fix or a box ticked. Guilt, cravings and frustration are possible results of a negative relationship with food. Instead, changing the beliefs and behaviours of eating create opportunities to use the relationship with food to feel good in a continual and sustainable way.
Researchers from the World Health Organization (WHO) looked at self-reported data on activity from 358 population-based surveys in 168 countries, including 1.9 million people, for their study in The Lancet Global Health.
They found that the proportion of inactive people – those doing less than the recommended 150 minutes of weekly moderate exercise was above 37% and rising each year.
It’s no secret that exercise is vital for overall well-being – and it can be equally important to pay attention to your body outside of exercise, throughout the day. Recognising how it is feeling – even in small windows of time – set the tone for how you care for yourself.
When feeling under pressure or stressed, taking the effort to get out of your head and into your body gives a boost to your well-being. It’s not only about having a walk or going to the gym, it’s about self-compassion and making yourself and how you feel the priority.
A recent study by the World Health Organisation found that 35% of sick-leave was due to mental health related cases.
Nutrition and exercise are seen as keys to well-being, but the prime state of how you feel comes from thinking and awareness. Mindfulness of how you are feeling and what you are thinking is so simple yet so powerful.
Noticing the impact that people, places and things have on you leads to the knowledge of how you might be able to transform these aspects through emotional thinking. Simple actions from putting pen to paper and putting your thoughts into words, or pausing to turn the volume down on everything except your breath – a little self-awareness goes a long way to changing how you feel.
With consideration taken to how you think, you have the ability to plan a day that is not only about what you do, but how you feel about it.
Connection is at the centre of all Four Elements. As well as connecting to the self, there is a shared desired to connect with the people around us, such as our ‘teams’ both at home and at work.
Yet understanding and enjoying the realisation of that goal is equally as important. It helps to see these are the four points of connection: the self, another person, a group, and something greater than you, whatever that means to the individual.
Being able to connect with and help others, whether colleagues at work or family at home, means understanding how you can be supportive and when to step up to help.
The impact is that it creates a positive and safe environment that benefits both your work life and your home life as you build trusting relationships. From pausing the daily routine in order to open up lines of communication, sharing more with more people in your life creates a more meaningful experience.
It’s equally vital to create a connection to something greater than you. What that means is down to the individual, but whether it’s getting outdoors and into nature, being part of the world, or being in love, going beyond simply your own struggles adds perspective to the moment. Defining what is greater than you – which is different for everyone – can be the greatest connection you can experience.