Often these terms are intertwined but although they influence one another, their focus is different. In a nutshell, wellness” refers to your overall well-being, a lifestyle that you actively seek and one that is continually evolving — whereas, “health” refers to your actual mental and physical state.
One person can be physically fit, able to run 6 miles a day and eat the healthiest diet ever, but still not enjoy wellness if other aspects of their life affect their ability to function. Another person could be living with high blood pressure and disease and considered in poor health, yet practicing wellness that is enhancing his or her overall health. Wellness is more than being free from illness; it is a dynamic process of change and growth.” The World Health Organization (WHO) defines health as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” They define wellness as, the optimal state of health of individuals and groups.
“Wellness incorporates wholism — This doesn’t mean that each element will be in perfect balance always but supporting a client to create harmony out of that helps them get to the root cause of a challenge and understand where triggers are showing up. Health tends to look at just one piece and not the whole person. We can’t look at weight and food and not also look at relationships and careers, for example.”
–Kim Goeltom, Superwoman Wellness Coach & Certified Master Wellness Coach at Creating Legacy Wellness
This 7 element wheel incorporates the major areas of our lives that matter when it comes to following a wellness pattern. *
Physical Wellness -This dimension of wellbeing focuses on practicing healthy daily habits. It includes exercise and activites that buildi strength, flexibility, and endurance and eating nutritious foods. This dimension is most associated with health and wellness.
Emotional Wellness– Self-esteem and optimism are powerful healers. Similarly, expressing love and other emotions help achieve balance in the face of challenges. Note that emotional wellness differs from mental health which is the absence of mental illness. You might engage in emotional health and wellness by nurturing close relationships, establishing healthy boundaries, and learning to say no when you’re feeling overloaded. Tune-in to your thoughts and feelings
- Cultivate an optimistic attitude
- Seek and provide support
- Learn time management skills
- Practice stress management techniques
- Accept and forgive yourself
Intellectual Wellness The intellectual dimension encourages creative, stimulating mental activities. Our minds need to be continually inspired and exercised just as our bodies do. People who possess a high level of intellectual wellness have an active mind and continue to learn. An intellectually well person uses the resources available to expand one’s knowledge and improve skills. Keeping up-to-date on current events and participating in activities that arouse our minds are also important.
- Take a course or workshop
- Learn (or perfect) a foreign language
- Seek out people who challenge you intellectually
- Learn to appreciate art
Spiritual Wellness Is your mind at peace? A set of core beliefs or values that shape you and how you live your life often creates harmony. It encompasses a high level of faith, hope and commitment to your individual beliefs that provide a sense of meaning and purpose.
Social Wellness Your social wellness is vital to being a healthy human being. This means that you practice healthy boundaries, nurture friendships, and take time for social events regularly. Social wellness includes showing respect for others and yourself. Contributing to your community and to the world builds a sense of belonging. Learning when to push yourself to get out with others and when to stay home is key to balancing your social wellness.
- Get involved
- Contribute to your community
- Share your talents and skills
- Communicate your thoughts, feelings and ideas
Environmental Wellness This is an awareness of the unstable state of the earth and the effects of your daily habits on the physical environment. It consists of maintaining a way of life that maximizes harmony with the earth and minimizes harm to the environment. It includes being involved in socially responsible activities to protect the environment. This might include adding an air filtration system to your home and workplace, buying plants, and installing a water filter so you can drink and bathe in truly clean water. Environmental wellness is also about how your spaces feel.
- Rearranging your furniture, repainting, and bringing in more natural light can all be ways to improve your environment. Choosing toxin-free paints, organic fabrics, and low-toxin furnishings can also increase your wellness. Stop your junk mail
- Conserve water and other resources
- Minimize chemical use
- Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
- Renew your relationship with the earth
Vocational or Occupational Wellness involves preparing and making use of your gifts, skills, and talents in order to gain purpose, happiness, and enrichment in your life. The development of occupational satisfaction and wellness is related to your attitude about your work.
Many of us will spend most of our lifetime at work, which means it’s crucial that we give it consideration when building a wellness lifestyle. If you hate your job, are experiencing unresolved tension at work, or are in a toxic work environment, it will profoundly affect your health and well-being. You might need to change jobs, choose a new career, or simply establish healthy boundaries at work. You don’t need to make drastic changes in order to increase your occupational wellness. But it’s also important to know when it’s time to take care of yourself and do what you need to do in order to feel more joy in your life. Achieving optimal occupational wellness allows you to maintain a positive attitude and experience satisfaction/pleasure in your employment.
Tips and suggestions for optimal occupational wellness include:
- Explore a variety of career options
- Create a vision for your future
- Choose a career that suits your personality, interests and talents
- Be open to change and learn new skills
Here we’ve focused on elements that are more likely in our control in pursuing wellness. Other elements I have not mentioned are the financial dimension and the state of racial inequality here in the US and elsewhere in the world. Both are extremely important elements to consider in the well being quotient.
Having a roof over your head and food in the refrigerator is basic life sustenance which reflects our financial condition. This is the element many of us may not have control over, considering job losses related to COVID 19 and other factors. The social issues that have birthed organizations like Black Lives Matter, are also factors that may not be controllable in pursuing well being.
As you reflect on your status with these elements, are you healthy or do you need to make tweaks to achieve the best wellness for you? Chances are there will never be true equilibrium but we can live our lives shooting for that goal.