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What is the Difference Between Health and Wellness?

Many times before, we have heard people talk about the importance of health and wellness. We have heard about physical fitness and mental health, but about does it mean to be well or healthy? What is the difference?

We discuss the actual definitions of health and wellness and why each is important to acknowledge in your everyday life.

What is Health?

Like most things in life, the definition of health has evolved over the years. As time continues, we understand what it means to be healthy and what we can do to improve our overall health. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not just the absence of disease or infirmity.” A “healthy” human being is not just one that is free from any physical ailments but also has the physical ability, mental stability, and social comfortability. 1

Physical Health

Physical health has to do with the total functioning of the body and its organs. This is the most common perception of health when we define whether a person is healthy.

Physical activity is the number one way to make sure your physical health is always intact. Ensuring that your body stays functioning at its total capacity can be done by adding small amounts of activity throughout the day. Increasing the steps you take and the amount you are standing throughout the day can have small benefits on the overall function of your body. 4

Ways to improve physical health are pretty straightforward:

  • Maintain a healthy weight

  • Eat a healthy diet

  • Exercise throughout the week

  • Get frequent check-ups from your doctor.

Mental Health

Arguably, mental health is just as important as physical health. Mental health is a combination of your emotional, psychological, and social well-being. This has to do with how well we handle stress, relationships, and social interactions.

Mental health develops from the earliest stages of childhood and gets affected through every step of life.

If you are not sure if someone is suffering from poor mental health, look for these early warning signs.

  • Drastic changes in eating or sleeping habits.

  • Low motivation to see people or participate in usual activities.

  • Low or zero energy

  • Numb feeling or feeling hopeless and helpless.

  • Increased amounts of fighting with close ones

  • Mood swings

  • Smoking, drinking, or drug abuse

There are many ways to help someone who is suffering from poor mental health. Depending on the severity of the case, minor actions and mindsets can help you maintain a healthy mind.

  • Get professional help if needed.

  • Talk to others.

  • Think positively and look at the small, good things.

  • Increase physical activity.

  • Get enough sleep.

  • Develop coping skills. 2

Social Health

Social health involves human being’s ability to interact with one another and form relationships. It is similar to mental health in that it is about more than your physical self. It allows us to discuss and talk to others about our lives and things going on around us.

Adapting good social health includes

  • Ability to adapt to social interactions.

  • Being your true genuine self in front of others

  • Ability to balance work, social and personal time.

  • Developing new relationships and nurture your current ones.

  • Keeping people around you who support and care for you.

Social Health is critical to care for because neglection could lead to

  • Mental health issues

  • A compromised immune system.

  • Inflammation

How to Live a Healthy Lifestyle

Even as our lives change, we must continue to care for ourselves through all dimensions of health. 3

Simple habits that we form every day can either be beneficial or detrimental to our overall well-being and can make us feel good or bad in the long run.

There is no definite answer to what a healthy lifestyle would look like for everyone, but you can take specific universal actions to live longer and enjoy each day.

  • Get enough sleep at night. 5

  • Do not stress the little things.

  • Develop a good skincare routine.

  • Make healthy dinners at night.

  • Put down your phone and close your laptop.

  • Nurture your healthy relationships and reassess your bad ones.

  • Keep a journal.

  • Find time for physical activity.

What Does Wellness Mean?

The term “wellness” is a newer one to our vocabulary than health. It is still in common debate and fluctuates between being the same as health and having its own meaning.

While health can easily be determined by the physical body, the mental state, and the complexity of our relationship, wellness is not as concrete. Wellness is simple: following healthy habits to achieve positive mental, physical, and social health outcomes.

Certain areas of our lifestyle contribute to overall wellness, and all are important when trying to achieve beneficial habits and increase the meaning of our lives.

The Dimensions of Wellness

Physical Wellness- Caring for your body to stay healthy in the future.

Intellectual- Continuing to learn and develop knowledge and skills throughout the entirety of life.

Emotional- Listening to your feelings and respecting the feelings of others.

Social- Maintaining healthy relationships.

Spiritual- Finding value in the meaning of life and staying consistent with your beliefs and values.

Vocational- Participating in meaningful work that enriches your life and provides satisfaction.

Financial- Be able to live within your means, making informed financial decisions and setting realistic goals.

Environmental- demonstrating a commitment to a healthy planet.6

Are Health and Wellness the Same?

Even though both are equally important in creating a fulfilling lifestyle, both health and wellness differ slightly in their technical definitions. Wellness is an overall integration of physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. It includes fueling your body, challenging your mind, and nurturing your spirit. It is the sum of eight dimensions and includes striving for health and living fully.

While wellness is more of an ongoing practice, health is the physical state of your body, mind, and relationships. There is concrete evidence that leads to a person being considered “healthy,” but only you can decide if you are achieving wellness.6

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