Health Vs. Wellness…What is the Difference?
Health vs. wellness, the answer is in the past and present and creating a better future.
I heard a brilliant expression from a colleague this week – a number of years ago a doctor told her she was healthy, not well. What is the difference?
Healthy: not diseased…… Wellness brings out the deeper meaning of health, which can be glossed over in health programs. By differentiating between health vs. wellness, we expose the many underlying health saboteurs, which unknowingly compromise our health.
Think of wellness as the opportunity for health engagement. The word “health” conjures up visions of restrictive, long lists of ” I shouldn’t”, no fun to many people. Wellness can provide the physiological, emotional and social engagement and camaraderie for sustainability and adherence to a health and wellness program…and ROI.
The World Health Organization (WHO) defined health in it’s 1948 constitution as “a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” Sounds Utopic.
In pursuit of the broader WHO goals for health evolved our healthcare system. The healthcare system is financially depleted, and has become a “sick care” system. We diagnose, try to fix illness. Whether we get caught up in blaming the politicians for our healthcare crisis, we cannot ignore the erosion is largely due to unnecessary illness. Going forward, to achieve the intent of healthcare, we need to be inclusive of a thoroughly articulated view, role and definition of wellness.
Healthcare and medical diagnostics are vital, however, we need to all become our own advocates – and take charge of constantly seeking further wellness. Looking at out health is more of a current status. And whereas we know that certain diagnoses such as metabolic syndrome, pre-diabetes, carcinoma in situ, are definite calls to more proactive action -the goal of wellness is to prevent the pre-diseased state.
What is wellness? Wellness is the #1 opportunity we have in our lives. We have hundreds of options within our control to prevent even a pre-diseased state.
Take a look at these relationships:
health vs. wellness
exercise vs. physical activity
diet vs. nutrition
sex vs. intimacy
They are all often used interchangeably. Comparing does not necessitate an adversarial tone, rather, there are nuances that suggest a symbiotic relationship. They are subsets within each other, necessary partners promoting each other.
Medical diagnostics catch disease or impending disease. Genomic testing is our only diagnostic to provide the ultimate wellness, by mapping our DNA. Going to our healthcare providers, being told everything looks good, nothing is wrong – is fantastic news not to be taken for granted.We all know, we sill might not feel well. We might:
- have a haze about us…something is just not right
- feeling stressed and drained
- erratic appetite
- Feeling a lack of control in ourselves
- Not being as focused, energized and productive as we used to be
- Don’t feel rested and restored
- Or, we could just be in robomode- so busy in our day to day routines, surviving each day and task as it comes, we are unaware that we are not optimized
This general malaise in health is what I call health presenteeism. We know work presenteeism is being at work in body – but not being fully there in mind – not fully functioning and is usually attributed to health issues.
Health vs. Wellness – overcoming Health Presenteeism…..
We all know the Rx for health: Don’t smoke, eat right, exercise, good sleep, manage stress. Go for regular physician check ups. Imperative. Why are these imperative to wellness? Let’s start digging.
- Optimizing our digestive health. We all know the cliche we are what we eat. What his really implies is we are what we eat, digest and absorb. Our digestive tract serves many complex functions of our health. Hippocrates said “all disease begins in the gut”. Our gut performs an infinite number of daily tasks including digestion, absorption, influencing our mood with the production of serotonin, is the first step of our immune system……Our digestive tract takes thousands of attacks daily from poor food choices, digestive strain, medications, ingestion of toxins, viruses and bacteria, stress…and a central focus of our wellness efforts must be on optimizing our digestive tract.
- Eliminating physiological stressors in our lives.
- Oxidative stress and inflammation: Proven repeatedly to be at the root of all of our chronic illnesses.
- Optimizing our Immune system
- Understanding what it takes to create a healthy inner ecosystem.
- The science of happy. The #1 predictor of productivity is happiness. Happy is far more than accomplishing our goals. Happiness also must have wellness embedded into its roots. How does this impact our wellness programs? A 2016 study by Global Corporate Challenge (GCC) after surveying employees from 500 organizations in 70 countries found happy employees are more productive at work. The findings confirm the role emotions play in business, and that happiness is critical for productivity and talent retention and not a job perk or something that is just “nice to have.” The connection was clear: happy employees are high performing employees.
- Enjoying and embracing wellness. None of us are looking for another miserable task in our lives. Wellness practices must be engaging, integrated into a person’s life, welcomed, and perceived as fun and of great value. If we are not feeling the rewards of our wellness efforts, and we feel these practices are another strain, they are erratic and short lived. Wellness should be freedom and liberation, not rigid, restrictive or inflexible.
Wellness is a state of mind. It is a desire to optimize our health, a partner in our raison d’être, a joie de vivre. Through wellness we put a jump in our steps and feel capable of compartmentalizing and managing the many challenges life inevitably serves.
When appreciating the symbiosis of health vs. wellness, it’s easier for us to appreciate why our blood pressure and blood sugar are normal, our diagnostics and biometrics appear acceptable – but something is just not right. It must be stress is the usual conclusion – Yes – it is stress – but we need to look at stress at a much deeper level. True wellness is helping everyone to become their own health ambassador, helping them understand the many levels of wellness, far deeper than the superficialities. Even if we are eating right, exercising – there is great variance there, and maybe our overall wellness choices, when put together – are not nourishing us at the control centers of our body – our cells. Wellness comes from much deeper than our outer facade. Wellness comes from our cell-being.
Cell-being creates our inner magic kingdom that is hostile to disease, and takes the cacophony of our daily lives and creates a symphonic inner ecosystem.
Personalized Health vs. wellness programs…..Yes…..We get VERY personal……right down to the DNA….
Corporate health programs…what a wonderful way to affordably make the world a happier, healthier place.
Chief Health Enthusiast – Best In Corporate Health
- Shira is regularly consulted by Naturopaths, oncologists, health coaches on cancer exercise and exercise adherence.
- Has assembled over 20 health and fitness professionals with varying specialties to bring to corporate wellness programs
- Platforms include: Speaking, One-one/group health coaching, Retreats, Course development for in house delivery, Metrics to measure success available, Partners always included
- Now offering live interactive webinars, just as if each participant has a personal health coach – making corporate wellness programs affordable to all.
- Shira has been interviewed & published in hundreds of resources over the last 12 years:
Articles featured in: ezines, ArticlesInk, European Registry of Exercise Professionals, The National Post, Investment Executive Magazine, Directory of Greater Toronto, Canadian Leukemia & Lymphoma Association, Prostate Cancer Canada, Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada, Anytime Fitness, Today’s Black Woman, Today’s Seniors, Medical Fitness Network, FORCE (Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered), Willow (Breast & Hereditary Cancer Support),Myeloma Canada, Cancer Exercise Training Institute, Urban Poling for Breast Cancer, ROW – Recovery on Water for Breast Cancer, Sirius XM Doctor Radio