Opinion: The difference between wellness, well-being


Although everyone strives for “wellness,” this term usually refers to physical health — eating healthy and exercising. Many people don’t know it’s equally important to maintain their mental, emotional, social and financial fulfillment. These pillars make up an individual’s “well-being,” or overall health and happiness. How a person perceives their life and the path they are on is critical to their state of well-being.

The benefits of well-being

Most are aware of the benefits of maintaining physical health. A balanced diet and exercise, for example, are fundamental to fighting chronic illness, boosting happiness and improving overall quality of life. Well-being taps into a person’s spiritual, social and emotional needs. Achieving a holistic state of health positively influences an individual’s personal and professional life — from improving relationships to increasing productivity.

Other benefits of well-being include:

n Boosted morale

n Better social connectivity

n Improved focus

n Lower stress levels

n Reduced costs for employers

n Renewed sense of purpose/fulfillment

Turning wellness into well-being

Every individual’s journey to well-being looks different. Depending on a person’s lifestyle and environment, there are a variety of techniques to help achieve a holistic state of health. Some simple, everyday habits to kick start the process include the following.

Adjust workplace culture: More than 30 percent of U.S. employees miss up to 20 days of work because of stress. Creating a culture of well-being starts at the top: employees who feel cared for by leadership are better poised, more productive and better communicators at work. Employees can aid their own development by acknowledging their need for balance and taking the necessary steps to achieve it.

Some companies also establish initiatives that implement self-care and support personal growth. Options include:

n Blue Cross Virtual Well-being program, which features live webinars with downloadable content that is accessible for employees and their families

n Special discounts on gym memberships, meditation classes and various fitness tools

n Financial security programs that provide loan counseling and access to debt management software

Make the most of resources: Reading books, listening to podcasts and exploring other resources related to achieving well-being can help guide an individual towards a holistic state of health. It’s also important to consider what small steps will help attain larger goals, whether it’s practicing words of affirmation to improve self-esteem or striking up a conversation with someone new to work toward improving social health.

Pursue passions: Hobbies promote self-growth and fulfillment, which are fundamental to a person’s well-being. Consider activities that interest you physically and/or challenge you mentally. That may mean exercising, art, music, dance, reading or writing.

Start journaling: Research indicates that journaling has positive physical and psychological effects such as increased immunity and reduced stress. Logging thoughts of gratitude is linked to greater happiness, improved health and stronger relationships.

Team up: Finding family, friends or coworkers who share similar health and well-being goals is a great way to establish new habits and behaviors. Whether the goal is to relax more or establish a budget, look to one another for encouragement and motivation throughout the journey to well-being.

About the author: Cindy Bjorkquist is the director of health and well-being programs at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan will add a virtual well-being benefit for employers and members, integrating well-being practices that address financial well-being, emotional health and mindfulness alongside traditional wellness concepts of exercise and healthy nutrition.

For more information, visit www.MIBluesPerspectives.com or listen to the A Healthier Michigan Podcast, hosted by Chuck Gaidica.