We have been exploring the different pillars of wellbeing. In this article we are going to stand still for a moment and remind ourselves about the process that we are in. We are going back to basics by examining the key principles: what is the difference between wellness and wellbeing?
Ultimately, each of these two paradigms relies on the success of the other, but wellbeing focuses on proactive attempts to prevent the reactive approach to wellness. Wellness (the reactive paradigm) focuses on feeling better, treating and curing illness, correcting a path and compartmentalising health.
Wellbeing (the proactive approach) focuses on maintaining and improving health, taking preventative measures, taking responsibility individually and integrating choices into our lives.
See, there is a definite correlation between the two – if you are ill, you will use the practices of wellness but to stay healthy you will implement practices to enhance your wellbeing. This will be done at every level (throughout the pillars we have been discussing in this series of articles).
The Global Wellness Institute highlights the differences between wellness and wellbeing by focusing on the key differentiators.
Perception and intention
Wellness reflects on the action and activities to cure and treat a person whilst well being refers to a state of being, the constant activities you partake in to secure a healthy life. It is thus focused on everything (mental, social, environmental, physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing). It is, therefore, a way of living, not just an interjection when needed.
As mentioned above, wellness is about the physical dimension only whilst wellbeing focuses on the mental, emotional and spiritual dimensions as well. This means that within the paradigm of wellbeing, eating healthy is as important as taking care of your mental wellbeing and time spent on both is equally important. Simply put, it’s not just about looking good, it’s about feeling good as well.
Healthcare and medical care
Wellness focuses on consuming healthy lifestyles and choices by being active within the health market. Wellbeing is more about a sense of fulfilment, not just consuming, but being active in choices that enhance your full sense of happiness.
In the interrelation between the two, it means that you will be more conscious of your health decisions. Are you just assuming that the advice and care that you receive is individual and correct for you? This means questioning the advice you receive and asking what effect the care could have on you.
How many of us ask the pharmacist when we receive the medication prescribed what the effects could be? Is there other medication you should NOT be consuming whilst you are using the prescribed medication? Is there a specific way in which you should be using the medication?
Industry vs government
This issue is something that as citizens of a particular country, you are responsible to question. Wellness is an industry in context whilst wellbeing is policy. How do governments care for the health of their citizens and how do we as citizens respond to that?
Think of alcohol and cigarette taxes – governments set these with the intent to discourage the sale thereof because it is so expensive. It, therefore, reflects the actions taken by decision-makers to keep their citizens healthy and to provide them with the options for making better health decisions.
Industry vs. individual
Within the wellness paradigm, industrial economies are measured. Within the wellness framework, individual welfare is measured for intervention purposes and policy decisions. Like the Global Happiness Index.
We have studied different aspects of wellness and wellbeing but the common theme is choice – what you choose to do will always stay key to how healthy you are. We are however not in control of everything – genetics, for example, you cannot control your genes and what illnesses you are prone to have because of that. BUT, you can practice preventive measures to actively take part in being healthy. Statistically, 70-88% of chronic diseases CAN be controlled. For example – managing diabetes with healthy food choices. So, let us review the basic principles of wellbeing.
1. Make personal decisions
Make decisions that work for you. We know what we need to do, exercise, eat well, take care of our mental wellbeing and focus on our spiritual and emotional wellbeing. Do what is right for you, no one person is the same, likes the same things and has the same time frames. Work out what works out for you.
2. Lifestyle choices
Choose to live healthily. Include activities in your daily lives that enhance your health and not deplete it.
3. Prevention is key
Know your weakness. Know what you need to do to prevent damage. You know what’s right for you and if you do not or are unsure, that is the time to find out.
Discussing the issues above, together with the discussions we had regarding our choices and activities to stay healthy is closely linked to the advances we were forced to face because of the global pandemic experienced by everybody across the world. The history of wellness can also be traced back as far as 3000 B.C. We have been in pursuit of our wellbeing for a very long time. Even though we are in continuous pursuit of this, the 21st century has been a tipping point for us.
The global wellness movement is transforming each industry and we must be more responsible for our choices. We are also forcing governmental change which has a direct impact on our personal health – think of gas emissions policies within the green economy. This is something that we all are part of and also brings nations together in their efforts to make better individual choices.
Choose health – look after yourself.