Health vs. Wellness

May 13, 2020

People use the word healthy to describe a lot of different situations. You have a healthy baby. You eat healthy food. You received a healthy bonus. You have a healthy appetite. You are trying to be healthy. You got a healthy serving of hard work today. You see, healthy is a word that is used in so many different ways, it’s meaning could be endless. The Oxford definition of healthy is “in good health” but what is good health?  

What about the pair, “health and wellness?” If being healthy is being in good health, what does wellness mean? Why are they separated? Isn’t being well the same as being healthy? According to Oxford dictionary wellness is “the state of being in good health” so, in fact, the dictionary says they are the same. Why does our society believe they are two different things then?  

Here’s my take, we see them as two different things. As Western Medicine, or allopathic medicine, is the prominent type of care we receive in the USA we believe that health means being free of physical illness or symptoms. If you don’t have a cold, you are healthy. If you have normal blood pressure, you are healthy. If the broken bone you suffered last year is healed, you are healthy. But wellness is a little deeper than that. To be well you are not only healthy, but you are at peace. You honor your body, your mind, and your soul, knowing the value each of these components holds. Wellness is a more holistic approach to your care.  

A quick Google search can show you the difference between these approaches. Wellness Retreats are geared towards physical fitness, stress relief, and forms of detox. Health Retreats or workshops are geared more towards nutrition and exercise. Neither is a bad thing; they each have their place in this life; however, I encourage you to seek wellness.  

I encourage you to look for a state of peace, before a number on the scale. I encourage you to find balance in your diet instead of feeling restricted. I encourage you to find safe and healthy methods of stress relief instead of over-indulging, I encourage you to pray, meditate, and get in touch with your intuition instead of getting lost in mind-numbing screen time. Treat the cause of your aches and pains instead of covering the symptoms with a pill. Now, I know what you’re saying these things all sound lovely, but how on earth does a person make this their lifestyle?! 

You start with the question “why?” Why am I reaching for this particular number on the scale? Is it because somewhere in my life society (or maybe a family or friend) told me that to weigh above xxx makes me fat? Is it because I’m trying to reclaim my youth? Is it because that is what science has said is an ideal weight for my height (BMI)? Did you know that athletes will often score “obese?” Did you know that muscle weighs more than fat? Did you know that as your muscle mass grows and your body fat declines you may not see a change on the scale at all? However, you will notice your pants fitting differently. You will notice less pain in your joints. You will notice your skin and hair looking better. You will notice that you sleep better and have more energy during the day.  

Why am I craving ice cream/chocolate/chips/alcohol? Is it because it’s a hot day and ice cream is a nice treat to cool me off or is it because I’m stressed about x,y,z? Do I reach for that beer/wine/liquor every night because I enjoy it, or because I’m hiding from other parts of my life? When you start to see the difference in your cravings between the instances you’re looking to hide an emotion and the moments you’re genuinely want something (some cravings can also indicate a nutritional deficiency), you will begin to recognize the real problems. It’s not that you have no self-control. It’s that you have over-indulged as a way to cope with other stresses. When your why is about stress or something out of your control, I encourage you to do one other thing before you indulge. Go for a walk, do some yoga, pray or for 10 minutes, write in your journal, etc. Do something that helps you to process the emotion instead of treating it with ice cream.  

Why I am still awake at 2 am watching Tiger King on Netflix? Or playing a video game? Or scrolling through Facebook? Is it because I have nothing better to do (I doubt that, rarely are people truly bored in this life), or is it because I don’t want to face my own thoughts? If I can get lost in someone else’s story I don’t have to think about my own. If I can distract my brain with this never-ending game, or Facebook feed I don’t have to think about the things that are on my mind. I don’t have to admit that I am lonely, sad, scared, stressed, unfulfilled, overwhelmed, etc, etc, etc. Once in awhile a distraction is nice, but it is only a distraction. All those feelings will still be there the next day. All that growth that is waiting for you on the other side of that discomfort sits at a stand-still until you’re ready to embrace it. Recognize those emotions. Name them. I want to get lost in this show because I am ______. I feel that way because ______. Start there. When that becomes easy, then you work on this statement; I can change this by doing __________. You have the power to decide how you feel.  

Why do I need this pill to feel better today? What is my body trying to tell me that I am ignoring? Do I need to see a chiropractor or get a massage? Do I need to correct the ergonomics of my work station? Do I need to change my eating patterns? Do I need to drink more water? Do I need to address an allergy? Do I need to release some stress? Your body was made to be perfect. You were born pain-free. To have pain shows a pattern of dis-ease in your body. What do you need to do to restore that ease? To restore your peace? It may not be as fast as that pill you take, but it can be a true fix to your symptom, instead of just covering it up.  

You see, when you seek wellness you are truly healing your body, your mind, and your soul. You are allowing yourself to be the best version of you, to be the person God intended you to be. When you seek out wellness you seek you Purely You. May your day be filled with love and light, today and always.  




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