Updated: Sep 9
We hear, we use, the terms “health” and “well-being” (wellbeing) on a daily basis. Many people are hard pressed to define them so we thought it useful to look a little deeper to understand the specifics.
What is Health?
Of the two terms under discussion 'health' seems to be the easier to define. There is a broad consensus of the definition even if the 'best' route to health is much debated. And no, there is no single best path to health although most people try to address one or more of the Pillars of Health.
"Soundness of body; that condition in which its functions are duly and efficiently discharged." Oxford English Dictionary
“Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” World Health Organisation
“Health is more than the absence of disease; it is a resource that allows people to realize their aspirations, satisfy their needs and to cope with the environment in order to live a long, productive, and fruitful life.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
What is Well-Being?
Wellbeing, er, well-being, is harder to define:
"With reference to a person or community: the state of being healthy, happy, or prosperous; physical, psychological, or moral welfare." Oxford English Dictionary (note: they do not accept unhyphenated wellbeing)
“There is no consensus around a single definition of well-being, but there is general agreement that at minimum, well-being includes the presence of positive emotions and moods (e.g., contentment, happiness), the absence of negative emotions (e.g., depression, anxiety), satisfaction with life, fulfillment and positive functioning. In simple terms, well-being can be described as judging life positively and feeling good.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Wellbeing is defined differently by different cultures, different age groups, by sex and by the individual. When working with our clients we start by examining their own definition of health and wellbeing and we often return to it along the way.
What do health and wellbeing mean to you, in your personal context? How might the definitions change over time?
There is no wrong answer to the question above; we are all individuals on our own path to health. In our own daily practice we use whole person health as a principle to guide us. The important thing is to practise self-care, enjoy life and to take action.
Stay Healthy, and Well!
Achieve your Health Goals
Your health, physical – mental – social - is complex and affected by multiple factors within and outside of your control. Our consults and programmes address the whole person, the root causes of ill health and maximising your health performance & vitality.
Take the first step. Book a Whole Health Consult to assess, identify and prioritise key factors (known and unknown) that affect your health. And receive personalised recommendations on how to address them.
Want to put recommendations into action? Learn more about our programmes for individuals or teams.
Wolrd Health Organization, Constitution
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Well-Being Concepts
Jarden A, Roache A. What Is Wellbeing? Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2023 Mar 12;20(6):5006. doi: 10.3390/ijerph20065006. PMID: 36981914; PMCID: PMC10049282.
Simons G, Baldwin DS. A critical review of the definition of 'wellbeing' for doctors and their patients in a post Covid-19 era. Int J Soc Psychiatry. 2021 Dec;67(8):984-991. doi: 10.1177/00207640211032259. Epub 2021 Jul 9. PMID: 34240644; PMCID: PMC8592098.