Curious How Mindful Drinking Can Help You Thrive? 🎉🙌
Click Here
A woman peacefully meditating in a yoga pose by a serene lake
Alcohol and Health

Health vs. Wellness: What Are the Differences?

November 4, 2023
20 min read
Reframe App LogoReframe App Logo
Written by
Reframe Content Team
A team of researchers and psychologists who specialize in behavioral health and neuroscience. This group collaborates to produce insightful and evidence-based content.
November 4, 2023
20 min read
Reframe App LogoReframe App Logo
Certified recovery coach specialized in helping everyone redefine their relationship with alcohol. His approach in coaching focuses on habit formation and addressing the stress in our lives.
November 4, 2023
20 min read
Reframe App LogoReframe App Logo
Recognized by Fortune and Fast Company as a top innovator shaping the future of health and known for his pivotal role in helping individuals change their relationship with alcohol.
November 4, 2023
20 min read
Reframe App LogoReframe App Logo
Reframe Content Team
November 4, 2023
20 min read

You’re scrolling through social media and see a post about the health benefits of intermittent fasting. Or you’re reading an article about how mindfulness is an important part of wellness that can reduce levels of stress. Or you’re talking to someone and they mention how they’re trying to make changes to enhance their well-being. 

Health, wellness, well-being: these terms are everywhere! Do they all mean the same thing or are there distinct differences? In this post, we’ll explore the difference between health and wellness, how they interact with one another, and why it matters. Let’s dive in!

What’s the Difference Between Health and Wellness? 

While people often use “health” and “wellness” interchangeably, the terms do have different meanings. The primary difference between health and wellness is that health is a goal, while wellness is the active process of achieving it. Let’s take a closer look at the definitions:

  • Health. When we think about the word “health,” we usually think about it in terms of not having any infirmities, sicknesses, or diseases. However, the World Health Organization (WHO) goes further, defining health as a “state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” 
  • Wellness. The WHO defines wellness as “the optimal state of health for individuals and groups.” Other experts define it as a “positive approach to living.” Simply put, wellness is an active, dynamic process of change and growth to reach our fullest potential and enhance our overall well-being. 

Why does this matter? Wellness has a direct influence on our overall health, which is essential for living a healthy, happy, fulfilled life. In other words, we can’t really have one without the other.

The difference is important to understand because while we cannot always choose the state of our health, we do have a conscious choice to make active decisions towards wellness. For instance, we might have a predisposition to heart disease, a diagnosis of type 1 diabetes at an early age, or an unexpected brain injury. This is our “health” — our state of being. 

However, we can choose to eat a balanced diet, exercise more often, and schedule regular doctor visits. This is wellness, the state of living a healthy lifestyle.

We cannot truly have health without first achieving wellness.

What Are the Dimensions of Wellness?

When we discuss wellness, we’re talking about various components of health. There are eight different dimensions of wellness.

Eight dimensions of wellness illustrated in an image
  • Physical 
  • Emotional
  • Intellectual
  • Social
  • Spiritual
  • Environmental
  • Occupational
  • Financial

Each dimension of wellness is important to our overall health and well-being. In fact, neglecting any of these dimensions can negatively affect our health and quality of life. Let’s take a closer look at each one.

  • Physical. Physical wellness encompasses all areas of health that relate to the physical aspects of our body, including nutrition, exercise, weight management, tobacco or alcohol use, diseases and more. It’s all about making choices to promote good physical health, such as eating a balanced diet, getting a good night's sleep, and exercising regularly.
  • Emotional. Emotional wellness encompasses the knowledge and skills to identify our feelings and handle our emotions effectively. It’s about becoming aware of our feelings, acknowledging them, and expressing them in positive, healthy ways. A key component of emotional wellness is resiliency, the ability to pick ourselves back up after experiencing a disappointment, loss, or setback. 
  • Intellectual. Intellectual wellness encompasses all aspects of well-being pertaining to brain health and growth. It’s all about keeping our minds sharp and engaged, whether through reading books, solving challenging puzzles, or engaging in lively debates. 
  • Social. Social wellness pertains to social connections, relationships, and personal expression. It means cultivating healthy relationships; spending time with loved ones, friends, and family members; and supporting others with compassion and empathy.
  • Spiritual. Spiritual wellness pertains to the search for purpose and meaning in life. This might include the belief in a higher power, but spiritual wellness doesn’t have to be aligned with a religion; it’s about exploring our inner selves and staying in touch with who we are at our core.
  • Environmental. Environmental wellness relates to living in harmony with the earth and appreciating the beauty of nature. It includes eco-friendly considerations, such as active participation in recycling and proper disposal of electronics. Other considerations include energy, fuel, water conservation, and the use of sustainable products.
  • Occupational. Occupational wellness pertains to personal satisfaction in our job or career. It’s about finding a career that aligns with our values and utilizes our skills well. Whether you're a teacher inspiring young minds, a chef creating culinary masterpieces, a stay-at-home parent nurturing your children, or a doctor saving lives, occupational wellness comes from making a positive impact through our work.
  • Financial. Financial wellness pertains to the knowledge and skills of personal financial planning. It involves managing our money wisely, investing for the future, and budgeting our monthly expenses. Financial wellness helps us achieve financial freedom and live within our means.

The Importance of Balance

Balance is an important part of wellness, taking the time to do the things that make us feel good, happy, and fulfilled. This might include working, volunteering, having fun, spending time with family and friends, participating in the community, being physically active, relaxing, or sleeping. 

Because we each have individual needs, preferences, and capabilities, our definition “balance” will likely look different from someone else’s definition. For instance, maybe we thoroughly enjoy exercising and prioritize going to the gym for an hour every day. Our friend, however, might really enjoy volunteering at the local shelter and spend more time doing that. 

Similarly, it’s important for us to continually re-balance from time to time and make adjustments based on whatever is going on in our lives. When we’re going through a difficult time — whether it’s stress, an illness, trauma, or emotional challenge — balance is especially important. For instance, it’s important to spend more time caring for ourselves and making sure we’re not overextending ourselves with other duties or responsibilities. “Down time” can provide the space we need to process difficult things, work through our feelings, or simply rest. 

On the other hand, during more relaxed, less stressful times, we might have a greater capacity to help and support others — family members, friends, and strangers. It’s worth noting, however, that social relationships and connection are a vital part of wellness; it’s never good to isolate ourselves. 

The bottom line? The goal is to achieve a well-rounded balance of all eight dimensions of wellness, which provides holistic harmony to our personal health and well-being. Just as a balanced diet is needed for healthy nutrition, balanced wellness engages the body, mind, and spirit. 

Tips for Improving Our Health and Wellness

Wellness exists on a continuum: no one is ever completely healthy or completely unhealthy. However, the more healthy behaviors we choose, the closer we move toward optimal health on the wellness continuum. In other words, we can choose behaviors to move us closer to better health. 

Below are some tips for improving each dimension of wellness. We’ve also incorporated several questions to ask yourself to help guide you.

Physical wellness. Make sure you are getting regular physical activity, eating healthy, nutritious foods, and getting adequate sleep. There are many examples of physical activity that range in levels of intensity from light to vigorous, such as yoga, bike riding, jumping rope, running, swimming, tennis, or dancing. The best diet to follow is rich in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats. It’s equally important to refrain from doing things that put our health at risk, such as drinking alcohol excessively or doing drugs. 

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Are you improving your diet by setting small goals for small changes each day, week, or month?
  • Are you getting regular physical activity whenever you can, and making it fun?
  • Are you getting 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night whenever possible?
  • Have you cut down or quit using tobacco products, alcohol, or other drugs? 
  • Do you visit your doctor, dentist, or other health care provider for routine care and monitoring?

Emotional wellness. Develop regular habits that help you process and deal with your feelings effectively. For instance, you might use a journal to record your thoughts and feelings. Or maybe you start practicing mindfulness, do deep breathing exercises, or go to therapy to help you work through any painful emotions. 

Questions to ask yourself:

  • Have you found and developed safe relationships with people or groups where you can express your feelings and thoughts? 
  • Do you write your thoughts in a journal, listen to music, or talk to family members or friends when you’re in need?
  • Have you tried yoga, breathing, or meditation to remain calm and centered? 
  • Do you manage stress in ways that work for your lifestyle? 

Intellectual wellness. When we foster our intellectual wellness, we participate in activities that cultivate mental growth. Reading, doing challenging puzzles such as crosswords or sudoku, debating issues with others who have opposing viewpoints, learning a new language or instrument, or trying a new hobby are ways to improve our intellectual wellness. Whenever we challenge ourselves to learn a new skill, we’re building our intellectual health. 

Questions to ask yourself:

  • Have you considered teaching a class or leading a workshop based on your skills, knowledge, or experience? 
  • What would you like to do or learn? Have you considered creative arts such as drawing, pottery, or photography? How about martial arts, or learning about nature, or improving your computer skills?
  • Have you explored thrift shops, libraries, or bookstores for interesting books or DVDs?

Social wellness. Building a healthy social dimension might involve asking a colleague or friend out for lunch, joining a club or organization, setting healthy boundaries, and using good communication skills that are assertive rather than passive or aggressive. 

Questions to ask yourself:

  • Have you made a date with friends for a movie, dinner, coffee, or other social activities?
  • Are you keeping in touch with family or friends? You can pick up the phone and catch up if they’re too far away — even a phone call can lift your spirits.
  • Are you getting out and meeting people with your same interests? If you like art, try a gallery; if you enjoy history, visit historic sites.

Spiritual wellness. Spiritual wellness might come from activities such as volunteering, self-reflection, meditation, prayer, or spending time in nature. To improve our spiritual health, it can help to create a quiet space for solitude and contemplation or a place of curiosity and playfulness. 

Questions to ask yourself:

  • Are you taking the time to determine what values, principles, and beliefs are important to you? Have you considered talking about them with others? 
  • Have you looked for a community group that deepens your spiritual practice and helps you connect with others who share your beliefs? 
  • Do you take the time each day to meditate or reflect on your spirituality? 

Environmental wellness. Ways to improve environmental wellness include creating neighborhood watches, recycling, planting a personal or community garden, purchasing products with minimal packaging, avoiding littering, and conserving energy and water. 

Questions to ask yourself:

  • Are you recycling whenever possible and buying recycled products?
  • Do you limit the power and water you use at home? 
  • Are you spending as much time outdoors as possible? 
  • Have you visited a public park to play a sport, take a walk, or simply rest?
  • Are you going through mail and other paperwork frequently to get rid of clutter?

Occupational wellness. An occupational wellness goal might include finding work that is meaningful, financially rewarding, and aligned with your values, interests, and skills. Consider your office culture and determine how supported you feel. If you feel unsupported, seek out emotional encouragement from loved ones and be sure to engage in recreational activities that can help balance work stress.

Questions to ask yourself:

  • Are you involved in a career or volunteer work that fits your values? If retired, are you planning to do something every day? 
  • Do you have an open line of communication with your employer/ coworkers? 
  • Are you in a career that you look forward to and that gives you a sense of accomplishment and pride? 
  • Are you celebrating or patting yourself on the back for your accomplishments at work and at home?

Financial wellness. Improving financial wellness might include developing a household budget, starting a savings account and adding to it every month (even if it’s just a small amount!), saving some of your income in an emergency account, minimizing credit card debt, and donating to a meaningful charity. 

Questions to ask yourself:

  • Do you balance your checkbook often enough, ensuring that you don’t overextend yourself? 
  • Are your savings in line with your life goals, such as taking a vacation, home ownership, or retirement? 
  • Do you have a weekly or monthly budget so you can plan for expenses such as rent and groceries and have a little left over to enjoy?
  • Have you thought about getting help from a person who specializes in money management or personal finances?

The Bottom Line 

Health and wellness are similar concepts with slightly different meanings. Health is a state of being, while wellness aims to enhance it. We can improve our health by taking steps to address and improve each dimension of wellness: physical, emotional, intellectual, social, spiritual, environmental, occupational, and financial. 

If you want to give your health a boost, consider trying Reframe. We’re a neuroscience-backed app that has helped millions of people cut back on their alcohol consumption and improve every dimension of wellness.

Summary FAQs

1. What’s the difference between health and wellness? 

The primary difference between health and wellness is that health is a goal, while wellness is the active process of achieving or improving it. Wellness is an active and dynamic process of change and growth to enhance our overall health.

2. What are the 8 dimensions of wellness? 

The 8 dimensions of wellness include physical, emotional, intellectual, social, spiritual, environmental, occupational, and financial. Each one of these are important to our overall health and well-being.

3. How can we improve our health?

We can improve our health by actively working on, managing, or improving each of the 8 dimensions of wellness. 

Enhance Your Health With Reframe

Although it isn’t a treatment for alcohol use disorder (AUD), the Reframe app can help you cut back on drinking gradually, with the science-backed knowledge to empower you 100% of the way. Our proven program has helped millions of people around the world drink less and live more. And we want to help you get there, too!

The Reframe app equips you with the knowledge and skills you need to not only survive drinking less, but to thrive while you navigate the journey. Our daily research-backed readings teach you the neuroscience of alcohol, and our in-app Toolkit provides the resources and activities you need to navigate each challenge.

You’ll meet millions of fellow Reframers in our 24/7 Forum chat and daily Zoom check-in meetings. Receive encouragement from people worldwide who know exactly what you’re going through! You’ll also have the opportunity to connect with our licensed Reframe coaches for more personalized guidance.

Plus, we’re always introducing new features to optimize your in-app experience. We recently launched our in-app chatbot, Melody, powered by the world’s most powerful AI technology. Melody is here to help as you adjust to a life with less (or no) alcohol.

And that’s not all! Every month, we launch fun challenges, like Dry/Damp January, Mental Health May, and Outdoorsy June. You won’t want to miss out on the chance to participate alongside fellow Reframers (or solo if that’s more your thing!).

The Reframe app is free for 7 days, so you don’t have anything to lose by trying it. Are you ready to feel empowered and discover life beyond alcohol? Then download our app through the App Store or Google Play today!

Call to action to download reframe app for ios usersCall to action to download reframe app for android users
Reframe has helped over 2 millions people to build healthier drinking habits globally
Take The Quiz
Our Editorial Standards
At Reframe, we do science, not stigma. We base our articles on the latest peer-reviewed research in psychology, neuroscience, and behavioral science. We follow the Reframe Content Creation Guidelines, to ensure that we share accurate and actionable information with our readers. This aids them in making informed decisions on their wellness journey.
Learn more
Updated Regularly
Our articles undergo frequent updates to present the newest scientific research and changes in expert consensus in an easily understandable and implementable manner.
Table of Contents
Call to action for signing up reframe app
Relevant Articles
No items found.
Ready to meet the BEST version of yourself?
Start Your Custom Plan
Call to action to download reframe app for ios usersCall to action to download reframe app for android users
5 Star Reviews
Downloads (as of 2023)
a bottle and a glass
Drinks Eliminated

Scan the QR code to get started!

Reframe supports you in reducing alcohol consumption and enhancing your well-being.

Ready To Meet the Best Version of Yourself?
3,250,000+ Downloads (as of 2023)
31,364 Reviews
500,000,000+ Drinks eliminated
Try Reframe for 7 Days Free! Scan to download the App