It’s fundamental, isn’t it – if we’re not physically doing OK, there’s no way we can perform at our best intellectually, emotionally, or spiritually. If you’re sick, injured or unwell, you’re probably not going to do much at all.
But when it comes to looking after ourselves there are a lot of different concepts floating around. It can start to get confusing.
How is wellness different from health? What’s really necessary and what’s a luxury busy women can’t afford? Here’s what you need to know.
Health: the foundation of it all
When we talk about health, we’re looking at the basics. Are you well in yourself – not fighting a virus, rundown to the point of exhaustion, or battling a chronic illness that won’t go away?
Health is often defined as a state in which we’re not suffering from any illness. In that sense, we can end up describing health by virtue of what it isn’t. So if we’re trying to be healthy, we’re essentially trying to be “not sick”.
It’s a classic “away from” motivation, because it comes from a wish to move away from the outcome we don’t want – in this case, being unwell in some way.
The trouble is, this kind of “away from” motivation can be limiting, because when the immediate impulse has passed, our momentum drops off. It’s the kind of thinking that can lead us to make all kinds of positive changes in our lives when we have a bit of a health scare, or when someone close to us gets a scary diagnosis. We don’t want that to happen to us, and so we vow off the sugar and the junk and start juicing like our lives depend on it.
But when things have improved – the flu that laid you up for a week passes, or you don’t get the bad news you’ve been dreading – your drive to maintain these changes wanes too.
Of course, the wish not to get sick might be strong enough to keep you motivated to make positive choices indefinitely. But for even the strongest willed of us, it’s a challenging way to maintain discipline.
Have you ever been on a real health kick and then gone on holiday, felt great, and proceeded to massively overdo it on the afternoon glasses of rosé and sugary desserts?
It might well have been because your motivation to live healthily was all about avoiding feeling bad. Relax somewhere beautiful, and you’re feeling blissed out – so you’ve got no incentive to stick to your plans.
Shifting our thinking: the wellness perspective
This is where it can be helpful to think about a word that’s being used more and more often these days: wellness. Wellness, or wellbeing, is how we describe a state that’s more than just the absence of sickness.
It’s a positive state of true vitality: rather than “not feeling tired”, you have bags of energy to achieve everything you want to. You’re not only meeting your basic needs, you’re actually getting the best of what you need in abundant qualities.
When you meet someone who’s not just baseline healthy, but is really thriving, you can sense it. Their eyes shine, they’re quick thinking, and you find yourself thinking “I want what she’s got”.
Thinking about our physical needs in terms of wellness moves our motivation into a “towards” framework. We want to exercise, meditate, eat healthily and make sure we’re hydrated not because we don’t want to get sick, but because we want to really feel great, all the time.
So when you’re offered an extra glass of wine with dinner, you say no because you’re looking forward to feeling fresh and clear headed in the morning – not because you’re avoiding a hangover. Same outcome, different motivations.
Of course, there are lots of other ways we can distinguish health from wellness, and countless ways of ensuring you feel at your best. But this towards/away from distinction can be a helpful place to start when it comes to considering how you take care of yourself, and what outcome you want.
Don’t you deserve to enjoy more than just the absence of illness, but instead to experience true vitality and joy? It’s certainly the way you’ll have the biggest positive effect on those around you, in your family, community and professional life.
We explore the different kinds of motivation as well as how to make sure your needs are met so that you can thrive in our life-changing 12 week program Be Powerful: Unleash the real you. Click here if you’d like to find out more.
How about you?
Is wellness a concept that’s a part of your life, or do you prefer to think about being healthy? These terms often get used interchangeably, so I’m curious to know what you think.
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