Health vs Wellness…what’s the difference?
The words Health and Wellness are used often and interchangeably to describe topics about well, health and wellness. But what is the difference and does it matter? Overall, it seems that when we are talking about Health, we are referring to the markers of our physical health, such as blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol. Wellness is a much more wholistic term that takes into account our mental/spiritual health, relationships, life satisfaction and more. Put another way, health is the goal and wellness is the process by which we get there.
We all have an idea of what it means to be healthy and prevent the onset of disease. Here are some of the markers of “health”, which are very important to keep an eye on:
1. Cardiovascular, including blood pressure, cholesterol, cardio-metabolic panels, scans of our heart and vascular systems, lung health etc.
2. Fasting Blood Sugar – how is our body processing glucose to prevent Diabetes.
3. Thyroid – TSH and other hormones that indicate our thyroids is functioning properly.
4. Bone density and joint health – Are we keeping our bones strong and joints working well.
5. Weight – Measured by Body Mass Index calculation. While weight isn’t an exact measure of health, we know that being overweight contributes to all major diseases.
6. Digestion - Is our digestion working as it should, with proper nutrient absorption and good bowel movements?
7. Reproductive Health – Is everything working properly?
8. Mental/Behavioral Health – Is the person suffering from anxiety, depression, substance use disorder or other mental/behavioral health issues.
Wellness involves much more than just the physical markers of health. Here are some of the things we think of for Wellness:
1. Energy levels – Do we have the “energy” we need to have a good day.
2. Stress Management – How well do we handle the inevitable stresses that happen in life. This is a big part of wellness because we know stress contributes to disease.
3. Nutrition – Eating whole, unprocessed veggies, fruits, proteins and fats is critical. We are what we eat!!!
4. Sleep – Critical to feeling good and staying healthy
5. Physical Activity – Non-negotiable for our well-being and cardio-vascular health.
6. Relationships/Sense of community – Working on this area is key to longevity and wellness
7. Spiritual Health – Most people benefit greatly in well being by having some kind of spiritual practice.
8. Sense of Purpose – Whatever it is, finding it is important!
One interesting place to look is at the “Blue Zones”, or places around the globe where people live unusually long and healthy lives (bluezones.com). People in these areas naturally attend to these areas of wellness…it’s just part of their lives. We can make our lives and homes a Blue Zone by working towards better wellness. Reach out to me here if you would like help with this.