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What is Wellness? Understanding the Concept of Wellness

What is Wellness? Understanding the Concept of Wellness

Wellness is about consistency!

When you hear the term "wellness," what comes to mind? At a high level, wellness refers to healthy habits we partake in on a regular basis. From the food we choose to nourish our bodies with to the physical exercise we put our bodies through and even mental health practices like meditation, wellness is the act of keeping our mind and body well.

While social media and the age of the internet have made wellness more mainstream, wellness is actually a concept rooted in ancient history. In fact, the first holistic practices can be traced back to ancient civilizations in the East and West. 

These early practices focused on natural remedies and preventative care, which have grown and evolved into the wellness movement and holistic health practices we're familiar with in the present day. 

Why are the multiple dimensions of wellness so essential to know and practice today? In this article, we'll explore the components of wellness, why it's important and how to adopt effective wellness practices that improve your overall health and wellbeing. 

What does wellness mean?  

According to The Global Wellness Institute, wellness is defined as "the active pursuit of activities, choices and lifestyles that lead to a state of holistic health."

These activities, choices and lifestyles that lead to an ideal state of health can be broken down into six key dimensions of wellness:

Physical wellness

Physical wellness encompasses the habits and routines you choose and adhere to that impact your physical state.

what does wellness mean
(kali9 / Getty)

This includes the type of exercise you incorporate, your decisions regarding your nutritional health, and the amount of sleep you get per night.

Environmental wellness

The environment you choose to live and exist in impacts your overall health. This includes how you keep your home and office and the natural environments you visit and the habits you exhibit that impact it—for example, your relationship with the planet and your carbon footprint.

Social wellness 

The people you choose to surround yourself with directly impact your personal wellness. Social wellness refers to the ways you connect with others and what those connections mean to you. This can include connecting on social networks and in real life. 

Spiritual wellness

The religion you practice, your connection with a higher power and the continuous search for purpose and meaning in life are part of spiritual wellness.

Mental wellness

This can include bettering yourself through therapy. Mental wellness also describes the lens through which you engage with the world, the way you express yourself creatively and how you process problems and come to resolutions.

Emotional wellness

Emotional wellness doesn't just pertain to your own emotions but learning to empathize and understand the feelings of others as well. 

Wellness vs. Wellbeing

Though these two terms are often used interchangeably, it's essential to understand the difference between wellness and wellbeing.

wellness meaning
(Morsa Images / Getty)

A few key differences include:

Wellness is an ongoing action or journey. Wellbeing is a perceived state of being. 

Wellness encompasses healthy choices and lifestyles. Well-being embodies feelings of happiness and satisfaction. 

Wellness pertains to our physical state. Well-being leans more on our emotional and mental state.

How wellness differs from health care

Prioritizing wellness is an active process of self care, and practicing this can improve our health. But the practices that wellness embodies do not necessarily fall exclusively under health care. Why is this? 

Healthcare systems reactively approach health. Meaning they seek to identify the cause of a symptom once the symptom occurs.

wellness health
(LWA / Getty)

Wellness, however, focuses on proactively treating the body, mind and spirit through healthy living, focusing on preventing symptoms and diseases in the first place. 

How to improve your state of wellness

It's important to understand that everyone's wellness journey looks different. There's no one size fits all approach to finding the right wellness resources to fit your lifestyle. Here are a few key areas to focus on during your journey toward good health. 


What we put into our body is what we'll get out of it. In other words, you are what you eat. Finding the right nutrition plan to support your body's unique needs can be challenging to navigate -- especially in today's crowded landscape. 

One way to get started is to try incorporating more wholesome ingredients into each meal you eat. Adding a serving of vegetables to each meal is one easy way to begin your journey. Making sure you have healthy snacks available to you throughout the day (cut up fruit, raw veggies, or a handful of nuts) can also help cut back cravings and keep you on track to make more healthy decisions. 


Practicing mindfulness is a powerful way to improve mental and emotional wellness. Being mindful has been associated with many health benefits and can even improve focus. If you're not sure where to start, pause for a moment and reflect on how you're currently feeling. 

Paying close attention to how we react to stress can be a powerful tool in the long term. The more you're mindful of how you're feeling, the further you'll be able to improve your mental wellness.


Getting enough sleep is often easier said than done – but it's a vital part of improving overall well being. If you're not getting the recommended 8 hours of sleep per night, start making small changes before bed to improve this. 

Try to limit screen time to an hour before you're planning to go to bed. Make sure your sleep environment is one that's calming. If possible, limit your caffeine intake to early morning hours. All of these small changes can lead to significant differences during your wellness journey. 

Social connections

Depending on your work schedule and personal situation, you may feel like you have enough social connections to maintain social wellness throughout the day. However, taking time to stay connected with friends and family members you don't see regularly enforces our sense of community and helps us feel supported when stressful life events arise. 

If you're someone who tends to feel exhausted by social interactions, start with minor changes. Aim to give one friend or family member a call for 10 minutes once per week. If you're concerned this call may eat up too much of your time, be sure to have an exit strategy. But chances are, if they're someone who's important to you, you'll find yourself wanting to chat for longer than you initially thought. 


Exercise doesn't have to mean lifting heavy weights or running long distances. In fact, just 20 or 30 minutes of activity per day can have a positive impact. If you're just easing your way back into an exercise routine, taking a brisk walk or parking further away from a store entrance when running errands can be easy ways to get started. 

As you progress in your journey, explore online workouts and resources that can help you identify the type of exercise that works best for your wellness goals. With workouts that incorporate dance movements and even boxing moves, there are many options that don't feel like "work" that can help support your endeavors. 


The wellness movement is currently flourishing – which means there's never been a better time to decide to better your holistic health. Wellness is not something that occurs overnight or gets completed after a certain amount of work. 

Wellness is an ongoing, evolving process that involves bettering all parts of ourselves: physical, mental and emotional, in order to unlock our full potential and allow us to feel fully engaged with the individuals we surround ourselves with and the environments we thrive in. Staying motivated during your wellness journey is critical. 

what is health wellness

The key to improving is to stay consistent in implementing these healthy habits. If you’re able to continually focus on habits that improve your mental and physical wellness, you’ll reap the full benefits of holistic health in no time. To stay motivated, consider these wellness Wednesday quotes or quotes for mental health for additional support.  

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