Wellbeing: The New Wellness

Coming out of 2020 and 2021, being quarantined, working from home, and experiencing months of uncertainty, there has to be a focus on mental wellbeing, not just wellness. But what is the difference?

We asked one of the leading experts in the corporate wellness space, Debbie Bellenger, M.A. award-winning wellness consultant from Tucson, AZ. "Wellness is often characterized in the realm of physicality, and wellbeing is a state of being that incorporates all tenets of good health, which include many things beyond our physicality. Achieving a state of wellbeing is comprised of many elements of our life. To leave one out may create significant impacts on our state of feeling well." Often these phrases are used in our corporate programs, but
they apply to everyone's life, every day in every way.

What is a wellness program?

"Wellness" is usually linked with the word "health" as in "health and wellness." It is characterized by programs that focus primarily on physical health. Wellness looks to address
physical ailments or conditions (obesity; high blood pressure; diabetes, smoking).

The programs representing wellness issues are weight loss, nutrition, exercise, gym membership, biometric testing, and smoking cessation. Health and wellness used to be "the" approach in the early 2000s, and programs that followed focused heavily on the physical state.

What is a well-being program?

In 2022 we need to address a more (w)holistic approach, which is called wellbeing. Wellbeing addresses the state of mind and acknowledges the relationship between the body and mind. Mental health, physical health, and all the things that connect them are part of wellbeing. A thriving life includes all factors that play a role in your overall wellbeing. Physical wellbeing, community wellbeing, financial wellbeing, social wellbeing, and career wellbeing create a wholistic for your life. For clarity, let's break them down:

  • Career wellbeing: You like what you do every day.
  • Emotional wellbeing: You balance your feelings.
  • Social wellbeing: You have meaningful friendships in your life.
  • Financial wellbeing: You manage your money well.
  • Physical wellbeing: You have the energy to get things done.
  • Environmental wellbeing: You like where you live.
  • Spiritual wellbeing: You are spiritually grounded.

What are the benefits of a wellness program?

A wellness program can help improve productivity, lower healthcare costs, improve retention, and help you be happier, healthier, and more engaged. However, many wellness programs see engagement trail off because ... well, people just get bored. Why? Because you are expected to fit the program instead of the other way around. We like to make sure you remember that you come first, and we focus on the person, not the program. Focusing on physical wellness with a path to a solution will ultimately aid in disease prevention and general health improvements.

What are the benefits of starting a well-being program?

The world is coming to the realization that healthy countries aren't necessarily happy countries. Health and happiness should go hand in hand when it comes to wellbeing. Happiness is more closely associated with wellbeing as health is related to wellness. It's time to start paying attention to mental and emotional wellbeing and taking care of our overall mental state.

Wellness + Wellbeing = Longevity

Where do you start to feel and move better? ANYWHERE! Make sure it's balanced, and you start by making small changes. MAXPRO's coach Marc Cornel suggests everyone starts "interoception," which is – your brain's perception of your body's state, transmitted from receptors on all your internal organs. It might be a lesser-known practice, but it starts with you learning how to listen to your body by closing your eyes and scanning it. Listening to your breath, heartbeat, acknowledging muscle tightness, and working in mindfulness can lead to less overall anxiety. Starting a strength training program can help since it "has been shown to reduce anxiety, possibly because it alters the interoceptive signals our brains receive."

"After strength training, your body feels that it can cope, and so, on some level, you feel a bit more in control of life." Explains science writer Caroline Williams. Reducing stress, inflammation, relieving mental and body aches all start with movement. Going for a walk can increase your cognitive skill. The bottom line here is that your physiological and psychological health are closely tied together. Brief bouts of stretching or workouts and having fun while doing so are all parts of the whole. As long as you engage and remain mindful, they will work.

References:

1) https://www.theguardian.com/science/2021/aug/15/the-hidden-sense-shaping-your-
wellbeing-interoception

2) https://www.gallup.com/workplace/340202/wellness-wellbeing-difference.aspx

3) https://globalwellnessinstitute.org/global-wellness-institute-blog/2016/04/19/2016-4-19-
whats-the-difference-between-wellness-and-well-being-or-is-there-one/

4) https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/fitness/fitness-basics/why-is-physical-activity-so-
important-for-health-and-wellbeing