We investigate the differences and look at how you can prioritise wellness in your life.
The term ‘wellness’ is liberally thrown about; loosely applied to a host of products and daily regimes all seeking to cash in on its rise in prominence. It’s very much a hot topic, and marketers understand that in positioning their products to promote an image of positive wellness, they might scoop up some of the audience currently being swept away in a tide of all things wellbeing. Which is not surprising considering that in 2020 the wellness industry was worth more than £20 billion in the UK alone.
But what does wellness actually mean? And why is it so important, if at all? We take a few minutes to dissect the foundations of wellness so you can judge for yourself those who have legitimately earnt their credentials.
Despite what you might think, wellness is not a new concept. In fact, its roots can be traced back thousands of years to the early civilisations that forged their empires across the ancient world. Combining religious practices with spiritual movements, and the recognition that self-healing can be achieved through a combination of natural and holistic techniques is well documented in history. The Romans loved a spa, and many of their most famous settlements were centred around providing a place for its citizens to detach after a busy day of doing whatever Romans did.
Bringing us back to more modern times, The Global Wellness Institute recognises wellness as:
“the active pursuit of activities, choices and lifestyles that lead to a state of holistic health.”Source: What is Wellness? | The Global Wellness Institue
This rather broad definition suggests that achieving wellness is a choice. By actively seeking to make lifestyle changes and choices, we can influence the outcome of our own wellbeing and strive for an optimal state of existence. And in linking wellbeing to holistic health, it detaches purely from the physical state, suggesting that body and mind should work together to reach a position of balance.
What is clear is that wellness is our own responsibility. It might be affected by the environment and surroundings in which we live. And sometimes temporarily predetermined by factors out of our control. But by and large, we should take individual responsibility for our own state of wellbeing.
To do this, it is useful to explore the 6 dimensions that make up our understanding of modern wellness.
We all know the importance of regular exercise, but just like the rest of our body, our brain needs to be kept sharp. Whether this is through creative and artistic outputs; by consciously undertaking problem-solving pursuits; or engaging the brain by expanding horizons and taking the time to learn new things, we must provide ourselves with the mental stimulation needed to keep our minds engaged.
As a concept, spirituality can be daunting and is often overlooked. But it’s not something to be scared of. Simply possessing an awareness of our need for purpose demonstrates a spiritual understanding. And for those looking to take it further, asking questions about our role in society, whether on a large or small scale, is considering our own spiritual impact and assessing how we can guide our destiny towards greater things.
‘No man is an island’ is the much-overused quote, but it’s only trotted out so regularly because behind it lies a large slice of truth. Forging and maintaining connections with those around us is a fundamental element of what defines us as human beings. And feeling like we belong in a community is essential in achieving individual harmony and fulfilment.
Emotional wellness doesn’t necessarily involve attempting to alter your emotions. It’s finding the ability to accept and understand those feelings that you experience in different situations. Taking it one stage further, once accepting of those feelings, the ultimate state of emotional wellbeing is being able to communicate your own feelings to others and empathise with the emotions of those around you.
Our natural environment plays an important role in our emotional state of mind. First and foremost, we need a safe and healthy environment in which we can go about our lives. Those looking to optimise their environmental wellness should be striving to make conscious decisions that affect the world in which they live. One way this can be achieved is by making sustainable choices in the products we buy, and in doing so considering the impact we all have on the planet.
Perhaps the most obvious of these 6 wellness tips is the importance of maintaining a healthy body for the sake of a healthy mind. But this isn’t enough in isolation. Physical wellbeing is a combination of regular exercise, having a balanced diet, and ensuring that the body is allowed enough time to rest and recuperate.
The Wellness Continuum
The Global Wellness Institute has devised a scale upon which it is possible to quantify the state of an individual’s wellbeing and wellness. Adapted from the original Illness-Wellness Continuum that was formulated by Dr Jack Travis in the late 1970s, this visualisation attempts to break down the stages required to maximise vitality. The Wellness Continuum promotes a positive attitude designed to stave away disease, enhance health, and encourages proactive measures, (rather than preventative procedures) to drive self-responsibility of wellbeing.
How do wellness and wellbeing differ?
It’s common to ask: what is wellbeing? And many people often query whether wellness and wellbeing are the same? The terms are often used interchangeably, however there are a few key differences in the terminology that it is important to be aware of.
We’ve put the main differences between wellness and wellbeing into an easy to understand table so that you can distinguish between the two:
|Concerns actions of intent||The judgment of a state of being|
|Obvious physical elements||Obvious mental elements|
|Associated with a healthy lifestyle||Associated with sensations of fulfilment and satisfaction|
|Can be used to measure the size of the wellness economy and associated business opportunities||Can be used to measure the individual welfare of citizens and subsequently used to inform interventions (for example The World Happiness Report)|
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Focus on thriving, rather than surviving.