What is the difference between health and wellness?
The words ‘health’ and ‘wellness’ are often thrown around interchangeably, but there are key differences – so what does it actually mean to talk about health and wellness?
Health usually refers to “the state of being free from illness or injury, according to the Oxford dictionary, and this sometimes includes mental health as well.
Wellness, however, is a holistic approach towards life that involves achieving one’s potential in multiple areas. Physical and mental health are large components of wellness, but the ethos of wellness goes above and beyond simple health.
For example, just because a person doesn’t suffer from a mental illness such as anxiety or depression, this doesn’t mean that they are ‘well’ mentally or have achieved their full potential in terms of their mental state. Taking time for rest, setting healthy boundaries in relationships, and spending time in nature are all things that boost mental wellness.
Physically, someone may be ‘healthy’ and have no diseases, but they could still be eating a lot of processed foods or not exercising enough, which would detract from their wellness.
Dr. Paul Drago recommends creating wellness focused rituals. Here is a list of some ideas to get you started:
- Engage your brain and learn something new.
- Try journaling in a way that makes you feel spiritually connected to the world or a higher power.
- Volunteer in your community.
- Carve out quality time for friends and family.
- Put plants in your house and do what you can to make your home feel inviting and relaxing to you.
- Put the computer down at the end of the work day and get into nature or engage in a hobby.
- Exercise in a way that is enjoyable for you.
A lot of wellness revolves around feeling connected to something bigger than yourself – your community, your environment, the world, your social group, and even the work you do. Start small and implement a few ideas, and see where wellness takes you.