What’s the Difference Between Health and Wellness?

Wellness Blog

Health and wellness are often used interchangeably, but are they really the same thing?


This post will break down the differences and make the case to strive toward wellness rather than settle for health.

Let’s start with some basic definitions. According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of each is:

Health: the freedom from physical disease or pain

Wellness: the quality or state of being in good health, especially as an actively sought goal

I don’t know about you, but after reading those definitions, I sure know what I’m striving toward…. Wellness!

Now, I understand everyone has their own personal situation. For some people who are in physical pain, have a disease/condition, or other ailments, health may be the primary focus.

However, I would still argue to set your sights on wellness and here’s why – health is just one part of a single dimension of wellness! Whereas wellness takes a holistic approach and encompasses mind, body, and spirit. 

Let’s look at the 8 dimensions of wellness:

As you can see, health is only a small portion of what’s included in the physical dimension of wellness.

A subtle difference that’s important to call out between the definition of health and wellness is the “state.”

What I mean is health is merely the absence or disease or pain whereas wellness is the active pursuit of your goal(s).

Put another way, wellness is a journey, not a destination. It’s something that is ever changing and thus can only be strived toward and not reached. 

Think about it this way. You likely wanted something different in many of the wellness dimensions at age 40 than you did at age 20. That’s not to say you can’t be at your “ideal” at both ages, it’s just that things change over time.

Let’s examine how this commonly shows up in our lives.

A common phrase that we hear is, “I want to be healthy.” More often than not, what the person means is they want to be well, or to strive toward their personal definition of wellness. 

To bring some value on how you can apply this to your life, I would encourage you to make your own definition of wellness. 

Here’s a simple activity to try:

Step 1: Copy and paste this list into a google doc, word document, or notes section on your phone.

  • Physical
  • Emotional
  • Financial
  • Spiritual 
  • Environmental
  • Occupational
  • Social
  • Intellectual

Step 2: Make a simple definition of each. Key word is simple! Don’t spend over 10 minutes writing your definitions. 

If you want to take things a step further, move on to the next steps.

Step 3: Give yourself a rating (1-10) on where you are currently at in each dimension.

Step 4: Take a few minutes to reflect on your ratings and then pick a dimension that you’d like to see personal growth in. 

Step 5: Write the things it would take for you to give yourself a 10/10 rating. 


Step 6: What’s one thing you can do tomorrow to take a baby step from where you are currently at to your 10!

Thanks for taking the time to read and complete the activity! If you have questions or would like some help with creating your definitions or striving toward your 10/10 join our FREE online wellness community here.

Until next time – be well!

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