Differences between health and wellness

Although used synonymously, health and wellness are different concepts. We explain why and how they are related.

Last update: December 31, 2021

At present, the terms wellness and health are used interchangeably. The confusion is such that even in formal contexts they are used synonymously, which has led to a state of absolute bewilderment. Of course, these are different concepts, something that you will discover in the following ideas about the differences between health and well-being.

In a general way, health is understood by the state that refers to the physical and mental aspect (in terms of its stability, strength, resistance and others) and to well-being with a concept that extends to all areas of life. In the following lines we show you the difference between health and well-being, with the early warning that your confusion is on the table.

What are the differences between health and wellness?

Although the WHO definition of health is very open, this term is usually referred to in the medical context of absence of disease.

To understand the differences between health and well-being, it is convenient to know the definition of both concepts. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines health as ‘the state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not simply the absence of disease or illness’. This definition is holistic, totalizing, and in many ways idealistic..



According to the researchers, and despite the WHO definition is more than 80 years old, most specialists and doctors value health as the absence of disease. A patient is healthy to the extent that routine examinations and tests do not find signs of diseases, disorders or imbalances that could compromise him physically or emotionally.

Indeed, when we talk about Health we must understand both the physical and psychological aspects. What about well-being then? The National Welfare Institute (NWI) describes it as an ‘active process through which people realize and make decisions to achieve a more successful existence’. It does so, according to this organization, taking into account six fundamental axes:

  • Emotional.
  • Occupational.
  • Physical.
  • Social.
  • Intellectual.
  • Spiritual.

To the extent that a person actively achieves success in each of these six axes, he will be able to say that his life has more or less well-being. Since success is a subjective category (often related to personal expectations), well-being is very subjective. Health continues to be so, but scientific criteria allow a clearer line to be drawn between healthy Y not healthy.



We can synthesize that health refers to a state of balance in terms of ailments, diseases and conditions (both physical and psychological) and well-being as a more general spectrum of satisfaction, tranquility and prosperity in various aspects of life. We can understand the differences between health and well-being from these coordinates.

The relationship between health and well-being

Both health and well-being are closely linked concepts, despite the obvious differences in their definitions.

Although health and wellness allude to different ideas, this does not imply that they are not closely related. Indeed, the well-being of a person affects their health, and the health of this affects their well-being.

We have already agreed in the previous section that wellness revolves around voluntary decision-making. Indeed, the decisions you make in different aspects of your life have a direct impact on your health. Some will promote it, while others will do it against it and even against your integrity.

For example, the number of hours you sleep, the diet you choose to consume, the amount of exercise you do, the place where you work or the interaction you have with others does not go unnoticed in your general health. Let’s look at some examples that illustrate this point:

  • Environmental well-being and health: The place where you live or where you relate determines whether or not you develop some diseases. For example, you can get an infection from drinking contaminated water, develop illnesses from being exposed to certain materials, and develop asthma or allergies due to impurity in the air.
  • Social welfare and health: The relationships you have with friends, family, and colleagues are a good determinant of your psychological health. In general, those who do not encourage this interaction tend to develop social phobia, depression, anxiety, feelings of loneliness, and so on.
  • Financial wellness and health: The greater your financial stability, the better the response you can give to a situation that affects your health. Financial stress is very prevalent these days, and it can have severe repercussions on a person’s day-to-day life.
  • Emotional well-being and health: The active decisions you make to achieve a balance and stability of your emotions can save you episodes of stress, anxiety, tension and of course also depression. Your attitude (positive or negative) and the ability to control or express your emotions also have a direct impact on your psychological health.

The above is just one example of how despite the differences between health and wellness these ideas are connected to each other. The active decisions you make in the order of the six axes presented in the initial section condition or at least affect your state of health.

Simple activities or choices that you include in your day to day make a radical difference in the objective and subjective assessment of your health. Meditating, reading, practicing yoga, practicing mindfulness, properly managing your finances, allocating moments to share with others, smiling, playing sports and working in a quiet work environment, among other things, is good for your health in general. .

With the latter, the differences between health and well-being have become clear. We summarize that health is a concept that is included within well-being, and to some extent it can be positively mediated by this.

You cannot be in 100% control of your health, but you can make decisions and implement a beneficial lifestyle to lower your chances of developing a serious condition.

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