Connecting Your Mental & Physical Health
Your mental health and physical health are very intertwined making it important to keep both aspects of your wellness in check. Read on for information on these aspects of health play off of each other and what you can do to properly nurture both.
Believe it or not mental illness among adults is very common. One in five adults can suffer from a mental illness in any given year and the consequences can stretch far beyond not feeling right between the ears. You read that correctly. Mental illness has a profound affect on your physical health too despite the common misconception the two are not connected.
With that said, it is important to understand what qualifies as mental illness because it can be more than simply being depressed or “feeling blue”. From mood disorders to behavioral problems, mental illness has a wide range of symptoms it can trigger. Some of the most common examples of mental disorders include: addictive behaviors, eating disorders, depression, schizophrenia, anxiety, and bipolar depression.
So how do these mental disorders affect your physical health exactly? For starts they can impact and impair your ability to make healthy decisions such as eating a balanced meal, or exercising, but it goes even further than that. Poor mental health has been linked to serious health complications such as heart disease, obesity, gastronomical problems, asthma, high blood pressure and a weakened immune system.
Depression on its own has been linked to chronic fatigue, insomnia, and increased sensitivity to pain due to abnormally functioning brain neurotransmitters.
Though this information sounds daunting and impossible to overcome, the good news is there are some easy steps you can take in your everyday life to improve not only your mental health, but your physical health as well. Just be sure to keep in mind that simply taking care of your mind isn’t the best way to improve your mental health. It’s about looking at the bigger overall picture of your health and addressing it the best you can.
Exercising regularly is great because it’s a way for you to release stress which can lead to mental problems, but also gets your body moving which can help in the physical realm as well. Endorphins and serotonin are released in your brain when you exercise and can cause your mood to drastically improve. The key here is picking an activity(s) that you will enjoy doing and stick with. Being consistent in getting your exercise is what makes this practice so good for you mentally and physically.
Going along with exercise, eating a healthy diet is also important to both your physical and mental well-being. Diets loaded junk food have been linked to increased depression and anxiety as well as obesity and subsequent health problems within that realm. Skipping meals is also not a good idea for your overall health leading to fatigue and unconstructive snacking. A diet full of fruits, veggies, lean proteins and healthy fats will keep you full and well energized while keeping your mind sharp for whatever curves life may throw your way.
Go to bed at a normal hour and stick with a bedtime routine. A few things to keep in mind with this is to make sure you relax before bed (no phones) and lower your caffeine intake, especially close to bedtime. Doing both of those things will help you to fall asleep faster and deeper, keeping your mind and body in good, functioning health.
Finally, don’t be afraid to get help or seek out a healthy support system. We are social creatures that need human interaction from time to time. Just make sure your social circle is supportive of your physical and mental needs, while being open to hearing you out if you feel problems arising in either of those realms. You will be amazed at what a little talk therapy with family and friends can do for your overall health.