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What's the difference between wellness and wellbeing?

You hear a lot about 'wellness' and 'wellbeing'. But what are they? Are they the same thing? Can you use them interchangeably? Or is there a difference between the two concepts?

What is wellness? What is wellbeing?

At base, wellness and wellbeing relate to the practice of holstic self-care. It's whatever you do to nourish your soul, body and mind.

That might mean a weekly yoga class. It might be a focus on nutrition. Or there may be a spiritual element also.

But wellness and wellbeing can also encompass much more than that. For some people, it's the focus of their life.

I count myself within that category. Only in the last few years, however. (Before a crisis made me reassess what was important in life).

But to me, as a writer, wellness and wellbeing - although similar - are two separate concepts. And it's important to see the difference.

Wellbeing is the practice. Wellness is how it's sold.

If you're practising self-care - however that looks - you're also practising wellbeing. If you're a breathworker, NLP therapist, yoga teacher, holistic coach - or a hundred other ways of serving others - you work in wellbeing.

Wellness, on the other hand, is wellbeing, wrapped up and sold. It's the industrialisation of a practice that's as old as humanity. Wellness is the illusion that your happy, healthy self can be picked off a shelf and bought.

Wellbeing is free by its nature. It's the state of rediscovering our true selves. Practitioners help people onto the path. They light the way. That's wellbeing.

Wellness isn't simply making a living out of helping others. Wellness is high-concept. It's late-stage capitalism in action. It suggests that you're broken, but by buying 'wellness' you can be fixed.

Wellbeing, not wellness.

I agree that these are semantic differences. You might disagree with me. That's OK. But there IS a commercialisation of wellbeing going on, and it's helpful to call it something.

I've noticed that often, this commercialisation is called 'wellness'. In reality, it's anything but.

Wellbeing means you're not broken, and you don't need fixing.

Wellness implies that there's something wrong with you, which wellness can mend.

But people use wellness and wellbeing interchangeably.

Especially when they search on Google.

That's why I've scattered the word 'wellness' throughout my site. Even though I dislike the concept, I acknowledge that not everyone sees wellness as the commercialisation of wellbeing.

(In fact, maybe it's just me.)


I'm not going to go sniffy if you talk about 'wellness' or 'wellbeing' interchangeably. But I'd love to start a discussion around how commercial some spheres of wellness are.

Which word do you prefer?

Do you like wellness, and hate wellbeing? What do you think about the wellness/wellbeing industry? Let me know.

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