Health and wellness are both important elements when endeavoring to enhance your quality of life. However, these two things often get muddled and misunderstood, and are very often considered to be synonymous.
Although this is not the case they do perpetuate one another when paid attention to, they are very good friends indeed. So, what is the difference?
So, put simply, ‘health’ refers to your physical wellbeing; the state of being free from illness or injury. In order to improve or maintain good health we might pay particular attention to our diet; what we choose to eat, when we eat it, what it contains, where it comes from. We might also consider exercise, which not only includes specific and focused activities (the gym, classes, sports etc.) but also how active we are in our everyday lives. In order to maintain health we must also get to know our bodies, understand its limits and its habits. If we know this we will also know when something is out of the ordinary and have the discipline to get it seen to in good time.
Wellness, on the other hand, although it encompasses physical elements, is quite different. It is a lifestyle choice, and a discipline; it is the practice of balancing the social, spiritual, emotional, environmental, physical, intellectual and occupational components of your life to create an overall experience of wellbeing. These are referred to by many as ‘the seven dimensions of wellness’.
1. Social wellness
‘Connecting’ with other people. Being open and kind to strangers and being able to maintain loving and respectful relationships with those closest to us.
2. Spiritual wellness
Creating a harmony between what our values are and what actions we choose to take, and to realise the connection between all human beings and our common purpose.
3. Emotional wellness
To get to know our own emotions and to understand our tropes and triggers, and with that in mind learning to cope with the challenges that life brings to us. We must also endeavour to be emotionally open, to not shy away from showing and sharing our feelings, whether those feeling be happiness or sadness, courage or fear, anger or joy.
4. Environmental wellness
Recognising our connection to the world around us and our personal responsibility for the care of it. This includes not only caring for the land, air and water that surrounds us but also our homes and communities.
5. Physical wellness
Our physical wellness is, of course, the dimension that refers most specifically to our ‘health’; keeping our body in good condition so that we might be able to participate and enjoy the activities involved in everyday life. So, we must keep on top of our diet and exercise, get check-ups when we need them and avoid destructive habits particularly where tobacco, drugs and alcohol are concerned. We must also do our best to understand the connection between our physical health and wellness as a whole and how it impacts our ability to pursue a state of overall wellbeing.
6. Intellectual wellness
To continue to learn and to open yourself up to new ideas. To nurture curiosity in yourself, seek out new experiences, improve skills and to challenge the limits of your own knowledge and thinking.
7. Occupational wellness
Looking at your own personal fulfilment and work-life balance. Are you happy with your job? Are you satisfied with your chosen occupation? Does your job, and how it fits with the rest of your life, bring you satisfaction and happiness? Pay attention to these things and learn what it is you need to achieve this balance and what it takes to harmonise your work and home lives.
As we can see, health and wellness are very much present in each other. Health may seem to be simply one element of the practice of wellness, but it is an essential one. The functionality of our physical selves, the good health of our mind and body, are the foundations of building a life based on wellness. If we have bodies full of vitality and energy we have the opportunity to focus on the other 6 elements in comfort and at peace with our physical selves.
By Chris Thomson
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