While it’s common to think of just your body when you think of health, there are other vital parts to consider: how you think, feel, and act, and the social support system you have in place—in other words, your behavioral/mental health and social well-being. These components (physical, mental, and social) combine to make up your whole health picture.
What’s the Difference between Health and Wellness?
The World Health Organization defines health as “a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being,” while wellness is “the optimal state of health of individuals and groups,” which is expressed as “a positive approach to living.” Another way of putting it is that health is the goal while wellness is an active way to achieve that goal.
You cannot choose the state of your health, but you can choose wellness and exercise some control over your health. These choices are often referred to as “lifestyle” choices.
How to Prevent Diseases and Be Well
Wellness depends on healthy habits for your mind and body. These habits, which can prevent a whole host of illnesses, are lifestyle choices that you have considerable control over: nutrition, exercise, relaxation, sleep, and support.
Nutrition: Eat a balanced diet and stay hydrated. To help stay on track with healthy eating, download the MyPlate app for free.
Exercise: Be active! Adults should aim for 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise and two days of muscle strengthening activity each week. This helps your body and your mind.
Relaxation: Disconnect from devices and live in the moment. Mindfulness practices, yoga, deep breathing, and other stress-reduction strategies can help you relax and build up your ability to deal with stressful situations in the future.
Sleep: Get a good night’s sleep. Adults typically need at least 7 hours of sleep each night.
Support: Strive to make and keep friends, learn new things and discover new hobbies, be part of an active group, and care for others and yourself.
In addition to making healthy lifestyle choices, you want to reduce risk factors as much as possible. This includes practicing safe, consensual sex; reducing or eliminating alcohol use; leaving abusive situations; and stopping smoking and other substance use.
How to Improve Mental Wellness
All healthy lifestyle choices contribute to mental health and wellness. When you eat a healthy diet, for example, it affects your mood and can even reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety. Exercise reduces depression and anxiety as well, and it improves self-esteem and cognitive function. Relaxation calms us and clears our minds, aiding in positive thinking, concentration, memory, and decision making. Sleep helps maintain cognitive skills and too little of it increases stress, anger, and worsens mental health conditions. Social support fosters self-esteem, combats loneliness, and reduces distress when you’re faced with stressful events.
Being well is an active process. You have to keep making choices and sometimes changes to reach your best well-being, and sometimes you’ll need help along the way. As a patient-centered medical home, we recognize your whole health and treat all of it in one place. One way we may be able to help is through our integrated behavioral health care.
What’s the Difference between Mental Health and Behavioral Health?
As we see with wellness and health, sometimes terms are used interchangeably. So, what exactly is mental health, behavioral health, and integrated behavioral health?
Mental health is about thoughts and feelings. It includes biological and social factors that influence our mental state. A healthy mental state enables people to cope with the stresses of life, realize their abilities, learn and work well, and contribute to their community.
Behavioral health has to do with the specific actions people take. It’s about how you respond in different scenarios, and includes mental health as well as substance use, life stressors, stress-related physical symptoms, and lifestyle choices.
Integrated behavioral health care connects medical and behavioral health providers together, to collaborate with each other and their patients. It is a way of recognizing our whole selves.
At DFD Russell Medical Center, we practice integrated behavioral health. This blends care for medical conditions and related behavioral health factors that affect well-being. Because your physical, mental, and social health interact and affect each other, integrated care is the gold standard. Our team works together to keep you healthy.