Health and Wellness. You might think that the two mean exactly the same thing, hut actually, they are far from that. The actual concept of wellness is relatively new, and for many, the word is a complete mystery.
So let’s clear up the difference between the two once and for all.
- Health is how your body functions. Both physically and mentally we can improve our health in many ways, such as eating well and exercising. When we talk about ‘being healthy’, we meant that we’re disease free, our weight is considered healthy for our height, we have a decent level of cardiovascular fitness, our stress levels are controlled, and we have good control over our emotions.
- Wellness, on the other hand, involves various aspects of our well being. Specifically this encompasses our spiritual, emotional, environmental, intellectual, occupational, and social aspects of our life, as well as our physical health. And crucially, it is a continuous balancing act that we undertake every moment of our lives.
So let’s look at each of these aspects on an individual basis.
- Spiritual: We’re putting this at the top of the list, as it’s something that tends to get overlooked by many. Importantly, your spiritual wellness does NOT have to include religion – although it can if you choose. What this actually means is our understanding of the meaning of our life. We all need to feel we have a purpose, and this comes by being aware of nature, the world around us, being kind to others, understanding and being true to our core beliefs, having compassion, and feeling connected to others and the world around us.
- Emotional: This component is about being in control of our emotions, with the ‘good’ ones outweighing the bad. If you have emotional wellness, you’ll be generally happy, optimistic, content, stress-free, positive, forgiving, and at peace. On the flip side, negative emotions such as being miserable, wanting more, pessimism, resentfulness, and stress are all tell tale signs of a lack of emotional wellness.
- Environmental: Another commonly overlooked aspect of wellness. This is about caring about the environment we live in, being respectful to its limited resources, and being aware of the impact you personally have on the world around you. Taking an active part in ensuring that the world we leave to those who come along after us is a clear sign that you respect the world around you. And by respecting that, you also show respect for yourself.
- Intellectual: We as humans are designed to use our intellect. Therefore being able to do so is crucial for our wellness. There are many ways we can work on our intellectual wellness. Allowing yourself to be open to new ideas and concepts, being acceptant of those who differ from you, stimulating your mind by problem solving and reading, challenging yourself in situations outside of your comfort zone, being creative (such as art, music, etc.). These are all great ways to improve our intellectual wellness.
- Occupational: This is about your work and career. We spend so much time at work that it really helps to have a job that we enjoy and gives us satisfaction. Sure, there are times that we may have to do a job we hate, and here are some tips for surviving such a situation. However, continually working in a job that doesn’t give us satisfaction has a strong effect on our occupational wellness. There’s a reason that people take lower paid jobs to get that crucial work-life balance – and it’s all about their occupational wellness (even if they’re not aware of it, as such).
- Social: This is about the quality of our relationships with those around us. To be socially well we need to have people around that we care about, have a loving family (or surrogate family), have friends, be involved in our community, give and receive love from others… In other words, it’s about having those much-needed connections with our fellow human beings.
- Physical: Keeping your body in the best physical condition possible is a component of ‘wellness’. Managing to lose weight, give up smoking, and taking regular exercise are all things we need to do to ensure that we remain in good physical health. We’re not saying you need to become a slave to the gym, but finding easy ways to include exercise in your life is one of the best ways to keep your physical health up to scratch.
OK, so hopefully you can now see that health is a component on its own, but is also included in the larger, all-encompassing aspect of wellness. It is easily possible to be healthy, but not to have wellness (and there are many people who have just that).
You may well workout 5 or 6 days a week, and have the body to show for it. But if you don’t give the same commitment to all the other aspects of wellness, you’ll never be truly well or truly happy. Wellness is dynamic situation, and one that we need to constantly work at to maintain. Being healthy AND well is a delicate balancing act, but it’s worth it in the end – despite at first seeming like a mysterious state of being.