Health or well-being?

Health and well-being are combined frequently to be one topic.  Being separate terms should we be striving for health or wellbeing?  So lets look at each of these terms to see which one is better and which ne we should be aiming for.


Health is defined in the dictionary are WHO as

  • The state of being free from illness or injury.
  • A person’s mental or physical condition.
  • A state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.

The main determinants of health include the social and economic environment, the physical environment, and the person’s individual characteristics and behaviours.  The maintenance and promotion of health is achieved through different combination of physical, mental, and social well-being.  A person’s level of physical, mental and social health is easily measured through a variety of tests ie blood tests, examinations and questionnaires.  Factors that can influence health

  • Income and social status
  • Social support networks
  • Education and literacy
  • Employment/working conditions
  • Social environments
  • Physical environments
  • Personal health practices and coping skills
  • Healthy child development
  • Biology and genetics
  • Health care services
  • Gender
  • Culture


Well-being is not just the absence of disease or illness. It is a complex combination of a person’s physical, mental, emotional and social health factors. It is strongly linked to happiness and life satisfaction. Well-being could be described as how you feel about yourself and your life.

Every aspect of your life influences your state of well-being. Researchers investigating happiness have found the following factors enhance a person’s well-being:

Happy intimate relationship with a partner Network of close friends
Enjoyable and fulfilling career Enough money
Regular exercise Nutritional diet
Sufficient sleep Spiritual or religious beliefs
Fun hobbies and leisure pursuits Healthy self-esteem
Optimistic outlook Realistic and achievable goals
Sense of purpose and meaning A sense of belonging
The ability to adapt to change Living in a fair and democratic society

The factors that influence well-being are interrelated.

Measuring well-being in a population is difficult because the interpretation is so subjective – how you feel about your life largely depends on the way you see it. Like the saying goes, one person’s problem is another person’s challenge.  Every aspect of your life influences your state of well-being.

Achieving well-being

  • Develop and maintain strong relationships with family and friends.
  • Make regular time available for social contact.
  • Try to find work that you find enjoyable and rewarding, rather than just working for the best pay.
  • Eat wholesome, nutritious foods.
  • Do regular physical activity.
  • Become involved in activities that interest you.
  • Join local organisations or clubs that appeal to you.
  • Set yourself achievable goals and work towards them.
  • Try to be optimistic and enjoy each day.

So which one is better?