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Wellness, wellbeing and self-care: what does it all mean?

January 30, 2020
wellness, wellbeing and self-care

What’s the difference between wellness, wellbeing and self-care?

Modern life means we need to look after ourselves. Changes in technology make us always on and always available. We’re juggling lots of different things at once so we’re tired. We’re looking for quick fixes and solutions to try and ease the pressure. Yet we all have limited time and resources; whilst more and more is sold to us promising to make our lives happier.

We’re told we need wellness products for our self-care in order to positively impact on our wellbeing. But, what does it all of this mean? And what should we really be focusing on?

So let’s break down three of the biggest terms and work out what’s the 411 when it comes to wellness, wellbeing and self-care.

What is wellness?

Wellness in its most basic sense is the opposite of illness. It’s looking more at our physical health and what can be done to improve it – however, there are wellness practioners focused on mental health. Wellness is input driven and really involves an active pursuit of activities that promote physical and mental well-being, as well as proactively making choices to live a happier, healthier life. It’s about feeling and looking healthy – rather than a state of being.

Perhaps unfairly, wellness has been linked with consumerism and selling products that we’re told will make us feel better such as spas, supplements, and CBD. Please note, I’m not saying any of these things are necessarily bad – I love a spa day. However, it can’t be underestimated quite how huge the wellness industry is representing 5.3% of global economic output.

We have wellness tourism, wellness fashion and what now seems to have been termed as the Goop economy selling a lifestyle of luxury items. Anyone else watching The Goop Lab and wanting to try everything they review?

One criticism of the wellness industry though is that perhaps it doesn’t always reach the people who need it most. Personally, I hope this is something that changes in the future.

What is wellbeing?

Wellbeing is a more holistic approach. It involves looking at the mind and body together with the understanding that the two are intrinsically linked, as well as influencing life factors. 

Wellbeing is not just the absence of disease or illness. It is a complex combination of a person’s physical, mental, emotional and social health factors. Wellbeing is strongly linked to happiness and life satisfaction. In short, wellbeing could be described as how you feel about yourself and your life.

Every aspect of your life has an impact on your wellbeing: job and career, or lack of; money; relationships with partners, family and friends; whether or not we feel we have a sense of purpose. This is why it’s so important to review your whole life and not just part of it.

The factors that influence wellbeing are interrelated. For example, a job provides not just money but purpose, goals, friendships and a sense of belonging. Some factors also make up for the lack of others. We don’t have to tick everything off the list to look after our wellbeing. 

What we do know is that certain factors have more of a positive impact than others. Wealth, for example plays a lesser part in our wellbeing than strong bonds with friends and family.

What is self-care?

Self-care seems to conjoint up images of Candles and hot baths – but actually is so much more than that (although time to nourish yourself is critical too). Self-care is any activity we do; preventative and healing to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health. Although it’s a simple concept in theory, it’s something we very often overlook. 

Self-care is about recognising what factors contribute to our emotional and physical wellbeing. This might mean learning your emotional triggers so you can understand why you react to certain situations. It might be exercise because you know it has a positive impact on you mental health. Spending time with friends is also an act of self-care, as well as spending time alone.

Although self-care means different things to different people, there’s some basic areas that affect all of us:

  • Balanced diet (it doesn’t mean you can’t go out or eat takeaways; just throw a few vegetables and non-processed options into the mix)
  • Sleep (aim for 7-8 hours)
  • Exercise (it’s good for both our emotional and physical health)
  • Take time out to do things you enjoy so you’re investing in yourself too
  • Create boundaries (think about relationships with others but also ones for yourself such as not checking email after a certain time)
  • Laugh!

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