Health Wellness Definition Difference
In the english language, there are certain words that are incorrectly interchanged without much thought. The words “health” and “wellness” are some of those terms. Coming from similar roots, these terms refer to different aspects in a journey to living a better life. The concept of wellness is fairly new, making it a mystery to many people. That being said, everyone wants to live a life of health and wellness to ensure prolonged time with friends and family.
So what is the difference between health and wellness?
Health Vs. Wellness
In its simplest form, health refers to being disease-free physically and mentally. Once only considering physical stability, the wider acceptance of mental health and maintenance has expanded the definition of health.
Wellness is a concept and that emphasis the dimensions of wellness. When a person or group speaks of wellness, it is related to living a healthy lifestyle in the pursuit of achieving your full potential. Wellness is more all-encompassing than the term health. It involves various aspects of life such as physical, emotional, occupational, intellectual, and mental.
For example, a person could begin exercising, eating well, and going to sleep for the recommended 7-8 hours. These habits will (in the long run) help a person become more healthy. These changes, however, do not automatically signal wellness. If other parts of a person's life (occupational, emotional, etc.) are not in balance, they are not considered well.
While health is the state a person tries to reach, wellness is a balance that is maintained through active and conscious effort.
With a better understanding of the differences between health and wellness, each of these terms is composed of several facets.
The most commonly referred to aspect of health is physical. Physical health is defined as having a body that has an absence of disease or ailments. Physical health can be achieved through physical activity, eating foods with vitamins and minerals, supplementing any deficiencies with vitamins, limiting alcohol consumption, and getting proper rest.
Physical health is something that can be easily monitored by going to a doctor’s office. While there are people that may seem healthy at first glance, it does not necessarily mean that everything is working as it should. Many chronic diseases and health conditions work in silence making self care activities important.
Before making any changes to your current routine or lifestyle, it is important to consult a doctor. Drastic changes can have a negative impact on your physical health and overall wellness.
Once a taboo subject, mental health has become an essential part of determining the status of a person’s health. While physical health is about measuring the functionality of certain aspects of the body, mental health is concerned with a person’s emotional, psychological, and social well-being. Mental health is important because it affects the way a person thinks, acts, and reacts to situations.
Diagnosing mental health disorders can sometimes be more involved than physical diseases. While a person may feel that something is amiss, unlike physical pain, mental pain can be harder to quantify. Without proper mental health, it becomes impossible for a person to function both in their personal and professional life.
What is wellness?
As previously mentioned, wellness digs into every aspect of a person’s life to find harmony and balance. All parts of a person’s life contribute to their overall wellness and well-being. Even if someone attempts to compensate by focusing on one aspect, wellness is an active process and a 360-degree approach to ensuring that a person has true satisfaction in all areas of their life. It is considered a dynamic process of change because as different events occur, you will need to adjust.
Wellness is difficult to obtain but the pursuit of balance in your life will lead to genuine happiness.
Physical wellness encapsulates all areas of a person's behaviors. When the term “physical wellness” is brought into a conversation, the idea of going to the gym is something that most people associate with being physically fit. And while that contributes to the betterment and maintenance of a person's health, wellness is about the choices a person makes that affects their body.
These choices could be the number of times a person drinks per week, whether they smoke or not, how much adequate sleep they get per night, and what kind of foods they eat. If you exercise 4-5 times per week but smoke or eat a high-fat diet, your body may look fit but internally, it could be a completely different story.
Physical wellness aims to find the perfect balance between the things a person does that will affect their body. To learn more about physical wellness and how to improve immune system functionality, click here.
Although it is similar to emotional wellness, what distinguishes mental wellness is that it measures a person’s ability to cope with potential stressors of everyday life. A person’s ability to function normally under social or personal circumstances plays a huge role in their mental wellness. A person that is categorized as having good mental wellness is someone that is able to sustain a hopeful outlook even when a situation becomes stressful or challenging.
Contributing factors to mental wellness are quality of relationships, acceptance of oneself, and overall satisfaction with your life. Exercising mindfulness helps a person gain a better sense of purpose.
Our emotions play a huge part in wellness. While emotions include happiness, sadness, anger, and optimism, emotional wellness is the practice of actively engaging to improve your well-being.
For example, establishing healthy emotional practices like learning to say no, finding something you enjoy (like biking), or even spending time with a loved one can help a person feel less alone.
Mental health and emotional wellness can influence each other. That being said, a person struggling with mental health can still engage in emotional wellness activities to help sustain their overall well-being.
Many of us spend a significant amount of time at work. When thinking of or considering wellness, the place where you work has to be factored in. If you’re someone that hates their job or finds any excuse to call in sick, it can profoundly affect your health. Toxic work environments, where a person constantly feels stressed and undervalued can cause mental and even physical health problems like high blood pressure. Because so much time is spent at work, occupational wellness can influence social health. If you find your workplace burdensome, it can affect your state of being, causing issues in your interactions with others.
If your place of work causes unwanted stress, it may be time to move on or consider going back to school to get more training. While a change of occupation is drastic (for some), it could be what you need to feel good about yourself again.
Differing from spiritual wellness, intellectual wellness is concerned with how your brain functions. As people get older and set in their ways, many forget the importance of keeping their brain stimulated. The brain responds well to new things and wants to be challenged. Once a certain act becomes a part of your brain’s muscle memory, the challenge ends. Intellectual wellness keeps a person aware and curious to learn more.
Activities that stimulate intellectual thinking are learning a new language, instrument, or taking a class at an online or community college. Intellectual wellness is about pushing yourself beyond a comfort zone and extending the capabilities of the mind. It's an aspect of healthcare that is not spoken about as often but leads to good health.
Why Health and Wellness Matters
Both health and wellness matter immensely. Keeping your body free of disease allows a person to live a longer and more fulfilled life. And while health is more linear in its scope, wellness takes into consideration several aspects of a persons’ everyday life in order to determine whether or not they are genuinely satisfied. Health and wellness both require a daily effort to maintain or surpass goals.
A person should always aim to not only achieve a healthy and fulfilling life but also experience authentic wellness.