All too often I hear people say “Isn’t that the same thing, health and wellness? So, what’s the difference?”

If you do a generic Google search, it gets a little overwhelming. Answers are all over the place and you could spend a lifetime trying to break it all down. It’s a lot to take in, so here’s the short and sweet of it.

Health is a physical state, (hopefully) free from illness and disease. Typically broken down into three categories, health is not limited to physical. It also includes your mental and social health.

Currently my health is good but like many others, it could be better. Quarantine tipped the scale in an unfavorable direction, my tasks at work changed to include more seated work and with the kids home more, I’m finding less “me” time. Life for a lot of us has swung into survival mode. Don’t get me wrong, we’re rocking it for what it is but if we’re being honest we know this shouldn’t be the “new normal.”

Wellness, on the other hand, is an act. It is actively seeking out healthy habits, positive relationships and acknowledging that a lot of things go into making us feel good. Scientists, educators and medical professionals break wellness down even further and the explanations are lengthy and complex.

I live a life full of wellness and personally find the “Eight Dimensions of Wellness” to be the most relatable: physical, intellectual, emotional, environmental, social, spiritual, occupational and financial. Let’s break it down.

Physical Wellness: what you eat, how much you exercise and your medical health.

What it’s not: being thin, having perfect lab results or exercising endlessly.

Intellectual Wellness: expanding your knowledge, getting creative and developing new skills.

What it’s not: being a genius, knowing five languages or painting Picasos in your free time.

Emotional Wellness: understanding your feelings and being able to cope with them daily.

What it’s not: being happy all the time, never having problems or meditating all day.

Environmental Wellness: interacting with nature and the environment personally surrounding us.

What it’s not: having a zero-waste household, exclusively purchasing organic, talking to trees.

Social Wellness: connecting to a community, forming positive relationships and interacting with others.

What it’s not: a popularity contest, being busy 24/7 or getting invited to everything by everyone.

Spiritual Wellness: having principles, morals, values and a sense of meaning to life

What it’s not: organized religion, reciting zodiac facts or pushing your beliefs on others.

Occupational Wellness: a sense of purpose, career satisfaction and enjoying daily tasks.

What it’s not: loving every second of your job, knowing exactly what you want to do or making millions.

Financial Wellness: spending within your means, having access to tools and resources, feeling secure.

What it’s not: overspending on Christmas gifts, having a stuffed wallet or fully understanding a 401k.

It’s a lot to get lost in — if you let it. Break it down and find small pieces you can tackle. If you’re lacking physical motivation, let it be an intellectually well day. Open a book, research a spring garden to plant or recite the ABCs backwards. There are gains to be found everywhere, every single day.

Health is the facts. Wellness is the goals, thoughts and actions. Let’s get healthy and well together!

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