“Our greatest happiness does not depend on the condition of life in which chance has placed us, but is always the result of a good conscience, good health, occupation, and freedom in all pursuits.”
Thomas Jefferson’s late 18th century quote is more applicable today than it has ever been, and it’s a good place to start when we want to understand the difference between wellness and wellbeing. A few letters make all the difference. While it may seem like the two concepts are synonymous, they actually hold different meanings and encompass different ideals. So what is wellness and what is wellbeing?
Taking the above quote as an example we can think of wellness as ‘good health’ whereas wellbeing would encompass the entire sentence – ‘good conscience, good health, occupation and freedom in all pursuits’.
Living your life with a wellness mindset would be to focus solely on the health of your physical body – exercising regularly, eating well, being free of disease, limiting alcohol and so on. All of these practices are fantastic and essential to a long healthy life, but there may be a link missing here. Some of the fittest people in the world – elite athletes – still experience symptoms of chronic stress, depression and substance abuse, even though their physical wellness is being managed by a team of professionals.
With the rise of illnesses such as chronic stress, anxiety and depression, we need a shift more than ever in the way we view what it means to be healthy and live a healthy life. Enter wellbeing– a holistic approach to health encompassing workplace, social, financial, physical, spiritual and emotional aspects.
Documentaries like “Heal” are making staggering scientific connections between our mental state and the impacts it has on our bodies ability to heal and thrive. We are beginning to see an undeniable shift in the way we understand what it means to be healthy.
However, this holistic idea of wellbeing isn’t a new concept. In the ancient Indian philosophy of Ayurveda, referred to as the ‘Science of Life’, perfect health is defined as a balance between mind, spirit, body and social wellbeing. In the modern day west, we are now coming back to the beliefs that built some of the healthiest cultures in history.
Our modern concepts of wellbeing and wellness do overlap. Physical health is the manifestation of not only our physical practices but all other aspects in our life too, our wellbeing. If we’re in an unhealthy financial or occupational situation, our physical health will suffer. Wellbeing is an interconnected network of lifestyle habits that work together to bring us freedom in all pursuits of life. Physical wellness is just the most visible layer of wellbeing. Shifts in our physicality can indicate that we may be experiencing an imbalance in another aspect of our lives.
Let’s use a pot plant as an analogy. Being attentive to the plants physicality – its leaves, flowers, stems – by pruning it, making sure it gets enough light and watering it represents the idea of wellness. These practices are essential to make sure the plant grows healthily, however there are other aspects of the plants life that are also important but less visible. Practices that minimise stress on the plant and allows it to grow to its beautiful potential. For example, you may need to use a special fertiliser, maintain the absence of bugs, repot it or keep it in proximity to other symbiotic plants. This is wellbeing. Creating a lifestyle in which all aspects are designed to facilitate your potential and health.
What aspects of your wellbeing need attention?
Workplace wellbeing is hugely important – this is how you occupy most of your time and is your livelihood. We should all aim to find a career in which we not only like what we do but also feel challenged and fulfilled by. Your boss and team also has a large effect on your workplace wellbeing. We should all be able to feel connected, encouraged and safe in our workplaces. The wellbeing of your workplace is a group effort and is contagious among colleagues. Places of work that actively incorporate group wellbeing initiatives consistently see higher productivity and workplace culture.
Having a healthy social life makes us feel connected and appreciated. Maintaining relationships with friends, family, partners and new acquaintances gives us a sense of belonging and social inclusion. Studies continue to find that social connectedness is a strong predictor of our mental state. If you have a busy life and find it hard to maintain close relationships, carving out scheduled small pockets of time every week to catch up for even just 30 minutes will improve your social wellbeing.
Emotional and Spiritual Wellbeing
As humans we are constantly seeking meaning. Spiritual wellbeing doesn’t have to have religious inclinations and can be as simple as having a strong understanding that your life has meaning and you are connected and supported by the world. We are free to believe whatever feels true to us and brings us a sense of peace that permeates past temporary problems. Studies on the positive impact of spiritual and emotional wellbeing are plentiful. Regular meditation practices, journaling, and gratitude practices are a wonderful place to start. Emotional wellbeing can even extend to our hobbies. Incorporating hobbies in your life can relieve stress and add personal fulfilment.
At Myall we are here to guide you on your road to wellbeing. We believe in creating a space where all aspects of your wellbeing are nurtured. Inside the walls of our inner city sanctuary you will find a network of supportive practitioners and clientele, all sharing a common goal towards wellbeing.
If you need a workplace wellbeing boost, we offer office wellbeing programs.
Everyone’s journey is different and we aim to teach you applicable ways of raising all aspects of your own wellbeing. Our yoga and meditation schedule is structured to seamlessly fit into anyone’s schedule, whether you prefer exercising in the morning, midday or evening. Our moving meditation classes are work attire friendly for when you need a convenient midday re-centring. As well as our regular yoga and meditation schedule we offer massage and educational wellbeing events to give you the tools to take control of your own ‘Science of Life’. Myall Wellness Retreats, facilitated by our founder Emma Pugsley, are a great way to kick- off your wellbeing journey.
Wellbeing is contagious. Come in to Myall and catch the wellbeing bug.
Blog lovingly written by Mikaela Moretti