Err… they’re the same thing, aren’t they?
Well no, I don’t believe they are. While some people use these words interchangeably, I think they’re they’re subtly different.
My dictionary says:
Wellness is “the state of being in good health, especially as an actively pursued goal”
Wellbeing is “the state of being comfortable, healthy or happy”
Here I’ll explain why I think they’re different and why I choose to use the term wellbeing.
Let’s talk wellness first.
As I said this is “the state of being in good health, especially as an actively pursued goal.” And wellness often focuses on physical health, implying absence of illness.
Sounds quite nice really, we all want good health after all. But what about the ‘actively pursued goal’ part? This phrase bothers me. While actively pursuing things isn’t inherently bad – we all need goals in life or we won’t get anywhere – too much focus on the quest can actually increase stress and pressure. You know the kind of thoughts: “I must get my 5K time to 24 mins then I’ll relax… Oh, let’s try 23 mins now, then I really will relax… 22 mins… 21 mins…” And burnout. Remind me exactly how this improves your wellness?
I came across this statement recently:
“Wellness has fallen victim to a narrative that tells consumers they must constantly achieve more.”
Yep! That’s how I perceive wellness these days.
Take dieting for example. While it’s clearly beneficial to many and diets are often based on sound science (though beware the ones that aren’t…), if you constantly feel you must take things one step further to achieve ultimate wellness – “Waaagh, I have to keep going or life will be rubbish!” – there’s no way you’ll be able to relax and feel good about yourself!
It’s easy to see how wellness can become yet another stressor that simply must be fitted into life.
Wellbeing, on the other hand, makes no suggestion of pushing or striving. It’s much more relaxed and the very word suggests it’s a way of being. It’s holistic, accounting for the entire person – body, mind and soul. And it’s not just characterised by the absence of illness but by the presence of positive mental states, emotions and moods. Good wellbeing means you have space to breathe.
Sure, many of the available wellness tools can be incorporated into a lifestyle of wellbeing – there’s plenty of evidence that shows regular exercise and a healthy diet can help, for example. But the wellbeing mindset is much calmer, chilled-out and serene.
So which would you choose?
Going back to the question – “Which would you choose?”– remember that wellness is about pushing to achieve something you believe (or are told) is good for you, while wellbeing is about well, being (see what I did there…?).
Although wellness can definitely be good for you (there are many brilliant wellness businesses out there) I definitely prefer to be a mental health and WELLBEING copywriter. I don’t want people thinking I choose to promote activities or products that might push people too far.
Like the sound of that? Please, do get in touch if you’d like help with your copywriting