Did you know that about one in five adults suffers from mental health illness in any given year?
Yet despite these statistics, many don’t understand or believe there’s a link between physical and mental health. In fact, mental health is usually viewed as a separate matter entirely.
The common disconnect between the mind and the body creates the misconception that mental illness is not a physical disease or is not one that should be taken as seriously.
The World Health Organization defines health as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. Additionally, they affirm that there is no health without mental health.
Considering how prevalent mental illness is it’s important to understand that physical and mental health are closely related. Those suffering from mental illnesses may feel as though they are weak, dramatic, or that their feelings are unjustified. In fact, they should actually be provided with support as they would for physical illness.
The more we understand the link, the better we can help our minds and our bodies work together to remain healthy. Read on to learn the connection between mental and physical health.
How Are Mental and Physical Health-Related?
Mental illness is more than just depression. It covers a wide range of issues, spanning from those that affect mood to those that affect behavior. Some examples include depression, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, eating disorders, bipolar depression, and addictive behaviors.
Mental health links with physical health as any of these disorders can affect your ability to make healthy and positive decisions. They can also result in affecting your body’s ability to fight off chronic diseases.
Think back to a time in your life when you were stressed or anxious. Perhaps you remember that physical symptoms had developed too, such as a nagging headache or a feeling of sickness in the stomach. It’s likely that these symptoms were linked to your feelings of stress.
Likewise, mental illnesses can result from suffering from a chronic disease. For example, cancer patients are more likely to develop depression after diagnosis.
Good mental health helps people develop emotionally, make positive decisions for themselves and the people around them, and stay physically healthy too. Life with a healthy outlook and a positive mindset generally makes for a healthy, happy individual.
How to Improve Mental and Physical Health
Luckily there are plenty of changes you can apply to your lifestyle to benefit both mental and physical health together.
Not only does exercise keep us physically healthy, but it also progresses mental health by improving brain function, increasing endorphins and serotonin, and reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Activities such as yoga, Pilates, boxing, swimming, and working out are great ways to calm the mind while giving the body a challenge.
The most important part is to choose a program or form of exercise that works for you and affects your mental health positively. There’s no use choosing a high-cardio workout if you find it overwhelming or if it brings you any negativity. You’ll want to choose an exercise that you’ll enjoy and will stick to, whether it’s cardo-intense training or more mindful yoga practice.
If you’re starting out exercising for your mental and physical health, aim for roughly 20 minutes of exercise five days a week. This can even be as simple as going for a short walk in a pretty park.
2. Healthy Eating
There is a strong link between diet and mental health and physical health.
Diets high in processed, high-calorie, and low-nutrient foods linked with increased depression, anxiety, stress, fatigue, and higher mortality risk.
To improve your nutrition, eat regularly, avoid skipping meals, and shun unhealthy and irregular snacking. Maintaining a regular pattern of eating allows the body to sustain stable levels of blood sugar.
Add fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, fish, and healthy fats like avocados and nuts into your diet. These foods will help with brain function and will reduce anxiety.
Avoid caffeine and instead spend more time in bed. While caffeine is a quick fix to improve alertness, it increases blood pressure and as a result, leads to greater anxiety and less sleep. Plus, who doesn’t appreciate a few extra hours kip?
What’s more, as well all know a healthy diet results in better physical shape too.
3. Sleep Well
Likewise, sleep is closely linked with physical and mental health. Poor sleeping habits can lead to physical and mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, stress, weight gain, and heart disease to name a few.
Aim for between seven to nine hours of sleep a night. If you struggle with sleeping, try setting a stricter bedtime schedule, reading before bed, or lowering your caffeine intake as suggested.
If you suffer from insomnia, this should be discussed with a health professional.
People lucky enough to maintain strong social ties with family, friends, and their local community tend to be a lot happier than those that don’t.
Likewise, those that lack social connections are at higher risk for depression and other mental and physical health issues. For example, the elderly are at higher risk for depression as they are more likely to be socially isolated.
If you’re suffering from mental or physical illness, it can be difficult to discuss it with others. This can, in turn, prevent people from seeking professional help.
If you’re feeling mentally or physically unwell – reach out. You’ll be surprised how supportive people will be.
Spend time with loved ones and the wider community. It’s beneficial to both you and your peers and good for your health!
To learn more about the relationship between physical and mental health, check out this post from ShiftFrequency.com.
Seeking Help for Physical and Mental Health Issues
While healthy lifestyle changes are key to improving physical and mental health, for some professional help may be necessary. If you’re experiencing symptoms of physical or mental health issues, reach out to a medical expert to support and diagnose you.
By partnering with a medical professional, you can best find out how to understand, treat, and improve your health issues.
Interested to discover more about mental health? Learn about the mental health disorders that occur with addiction.