Knowing the difference between health and wellness can support building the foundations for well-being. When it comes to overall health, it’s about much more than illness. Learning about the various factors that contribute to health can allow you to create a holistic approach. Read on for the definitive answer on health vs wellness, plus tips on how to achieve both for a good quality of life.
Get To Know The Key Difference Between Health And Well-Being
The widely upheld basic definition of health is the absence of disease, illness, or infirmity. But, in recent years, the concept of health has been elevated and expanded to mean “a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being,” as per the World Health Organization. It’s important to strive toward the highest standard of health available to you, and it’s a fundamental right to have access to the tools and resources needed to do so.1
While health may be considered a static state as defined by your current physical condition, diet, and exercise, wellness is more of an active process. It takes into account the many choices you make to live what you deem to be a successful existence. You may be the textbook definition of “healthy,” in that your body is physically fine, but if you aren’t leading a healthy and active lifestyle, you might not achieve true wellness.2,3
While there are key differences between the two, when it comes to health and wellness, you can’t have one without the other. Read on for a more nuanced look into each concept and for tangible, actionable tips you can try to achieve both.
Learn About The Dimensions Of Health
As mentioned earlier, the definition of health goes beyond the basic absence of illness. Today, there is a more comprehensive standard by which to define health. It can be broken down into different dimensions: physical, mental, and social.
- Physical health pertains to the more obvious and basic definition of health: A body free from sickness or injury, and the ability to function optimally when performing tasks.
- Mental health involves a person’s ability to not only be cognizant of their own abilities and emotions, but also the ability to cope despite stressors that threaten or undermine said abilities and emotions.
- Social health covers a person’s external relationships and how they relate to their community.4
Learn About The Dimensions Of Wellness
Wellness is a dynamic process, involving several lifestyle factors. The goal of wellness is to have most, if not all, of these factors in balance, or at least to derive a clear picture of what that balance means to you personally. Also, you’ll want to identify the concrete steps and habits you must do in order to make it happen. A defining characteristic of wellness is that it’s self-directed – meaning only you can really achieve it for yourself.5
There are several dimensions of wellness. They include:
- Physical Wellness: Evaluating and caring for your physical wellness, keeping it safe from disease and harm
- Emotional Wellness: Having awareness and understanding of your own and others’ emotions; responding to deep or heavy emotions positively
- Intellectual Wellness: Recognizing the value of learning new things and constantly expanding your intellectual horizons
- Social Wellness: Maintaining healthy relationships with others; being a positive and active contributor to your community
- Spiritual Wellness: Finding and living your purpose in life, whether you are religious or not; actively pursuing spiritual health within your chosen religion or belief system
- Vocational Wellness: Using your skills and talents for work and a satisfying career
- Financial Wellness: Living within your means and managing your resources capably
- Environmental Wellness: Exhibiting awareness of your impact on the Earth, committing to habits that help the environment
Habits To Build For Complete Well-Being
Now that you have a deeper understanding of what constitutes both health and wellness, it’s time to explore important habits that could contribute to your overall well-being.
Eat Well, Move Often, And Sleep Soundly
Nutrition and exercise are both givens when trying to achieve peak physical health and wellness, but don’t underestimate the importance of quality sleep. You can fuel your body and brain with the right foods and stimulate it with exercise and sports, but you also need adequate rest for recovery.7
Be A Lifelong Learner
Keeping a curious mindset allows you to be open to learning and trying new things. This engages you intellectually, and it may also have a social or even environmental aspect depending on the type of pursuit. For example, if you decide to learn a new hobby or skill, not only are you stimulating your brain, you may also foster new friendships if you join a local club or online forum related to it.8
Don’t Be Afraid To Seek Support
If you need help learning how to regulate your emotions or navigating complicated life experiences, seek help from a professional. Or, work on having a solid emotional support system of trusted friends to help you through trying or stressful times. This bolsters your mental health and emotional wellness, and it could help improve your social wellness, too.9
Manage Stress The Best Way You Can
Stress is insidious – it affects several dimensions of health and wellness in different ways. Identify your stressors, and learn healthy coping mechanisms, like habits that positively impact different wellness factors. For example, going to the gym with a workout buddy, joining a yoga studio, taking a walk in the sun, or other self-care strategies all contribute to reducing stress while aiding your overall wellness goals.10
Health Vs Wellness: Make Them Work Together
Overall well-being is a lifelong pursuit, and it can feel nearly impossible considering the many factors at play. But knowing how to strive for a healthy body, mind, spirit, and even lifestyle makes the challenge a fulfilling one.
Take the time to assess yourself clearly, and see what you need to do in order to live a life centered on achieving optimal health and wellness. By taking things one step at a time and one day at a time, you can build beneficial habits that will have you meeting your best self sooner than you think.
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