You’ve probably noticed that the terms ‘wellness’ and ‘wellbeing’ have been getting quite a bit of airtime recently. Yet if you were put on the spot, could you articulate the difference between them? Don’t worry, most people couldn’t.
It might surprise you to learn that one is actually key to achieving the other. And knowing how can help you take control of your wellness and wellbeing.
Firstly, let’s understand wellbeing
Even the experts can’t agree on a single definition of wellbeing. That’s because wellbeing is highly subjective. You don’t have the same values, life goals and personality traits as the person next to you. So certain aspects of wellbeing may be more or less important to you than others.
For some people, wellbeing means physical health. For others, it’s about happiness, stress management or mental health. What’s more, your wellbeing changes. Think about your last holiday. The chances are that your wellbeing was better when you had ample time to relax than it is when you’re under prolonged stress at work.
All of this shows that wellbeing is more all-encompassing than any one aspect or trait. I like the New Economics Foundation (2012) definition:
“Wellbeing can be understood as how people feel and how they function on a personal and social level and how they evaluate their lives as a whole.”
So wellbeing encompasses your physical, mental and emotional states, as well as how you’re demonstrating meaning in your life, and your social evaluation of how things are going.
So where does wellness come in?
According to the World Health Organisation:
“Wellness is an active process of becoming aware and making choices toward a healthy and fulfilling life … [achieving] complete physical, mental and social wellbeing, and not merely the absence of disease and infirmity.”
Now that’s interesting. If wellness is an active process, you can use it as a tool to improve your wellbeing.
A wellness mindset is great for your wellbeing
At some point in your life, you may have felt that your wellbeing was suffering because of things beyond your control. Perhaps it was being too busy to exercise and ending up constantly fatigued. Or maybe it was catching every flu and bug that happened to be going around.
The great news is that wellness is completely within your control. That’s because wellness is about taking responsibility for the quality of your life. Often this begins with a conscious decision to create a healthy lifestyle or a wellness mindset.
And the benefits are huge. Not only will you feel happier, healthier and more energised, but it can also flow on to your performance at work.
It’s worth noting that wellness isn’t the only way to enhance your wellbeing. Developing your personal resilience also plays a key role by giving you the skills to handle change and do your best under challenging circumstances. For the moment though, let’s take a closer look at wellness.
How to put your wellness mindset into practice
Take continually getting sick as an example. This can often be a sign that you’re run down or on the way to burning out. When you adopt a wellness mindset, you’ll find there are many small changes you can make to improve your wellbeing. These could include:
- Eating more nutritious foods – you could begin with something easy, such as eating a salad for lunch twice a week or cutting out soft drinks.
- Getting a health check-up – testing your vitamin and essential mineral levels is a good way to see if any deficiencies could be contributing to your health issues.
- Making time to exercise – switch your approach from ‘having time’ to ‘creating time’, such as going for a walk during your lunch break and inviting a colleague to join you.
- Committing to a healthy sleep pattern – start seeing your eight hours a night as every bit as important as your other demands, because you can’t do your best when you’re worn out.
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