What’s the Connection Between Physical Health and Mental Health?
To most people, physical health and mental health are two very different things. But that couldn’t be further from the truth.
As a matter of fact, physical health and mental health are very intricately related. When you have good mental health, your physical health can improve. At the same time, when you have good physical health, your mental health can improve.
By connecting physical and mental health and understanding how they influence each other and the importance of optimizing both, you can live a happier, healthier, more fulfilling life.
What Happens When a Person’s Mental Health Declines?
When you’re in a good mental state, you can stay physically healthy. In fact, studies show that having a positive outlook on life can reduce the risks of heart attacks and strokes. Additionally, studies show that happiness helps reduce levels of inflammation in the body.
On the other hand, when your mental health starts declining, your physical health can follow suit. For example, research suggests depression is linked to cancer, chronic pain, thyroid problems, heart disease, and even multiple sclerosis.
Add it all up, and good mental health can go a long way toward helping you live a healthier, more enjoyable life.
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What Happens When a Person’s Physical Health Declines?
It’s often said that many of us take our health for granted. When our bodies work as they’re supposed to, we don’t give our health a second thought.
Sooner or later, we all reach a point where we realize why we shouldn’t take our health for granted. For example, when someone breaks their leg and can no longer walk without assistance, all that person will think about is how great it would be to walk again. Prior to the accident, they likely didn’t spend much time thinking about their leg at all.
Similarly, when an individual is diagnosed with a serious ailment — like cancer, a heart attack, or a stroke — it can be difficult to maintain an optimistic outlook on life, which could lead to depression. As we just learned in the previous section, depression can have an adverse impact on general health, which could further exacerbate their conditions.
7 Tips for Improving Both Mental and Physical Health
Now that you have a better idea about the mind and body connection and how physical and mental health are linked, let’s look at some tips you can use to improve your mental and physical health and live life to the fullest.
Eat healthier meals
If you’re struggling with your mental or physical health, there could be a relatively easy fix: Make a conscious decision to eat better meals. By ditching things like fast food, soda, and tons of sugar and consuming more healthy meat, vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, you can enhance your mood, reduce your risk of developing cancer, and improve your gut health, among other health benefits.
Exercising on a regular basis can improve your physical health by helping you lose weight and increase your energy and stamina. At the same time, exercise can also help you improve your mental health — and depression and anxiety in particular. The better you feel physically, the easier it is to see the world in a positive light. You spend less time dealing with aches and pains and have the energy needed to accomplish more every day.
Get a good night’s sleep
When you don’t get enough sleep, you won’t feel great in the morning. It’s that simple. Without enough sleep, you’ll have to operate with less energy, and you might find it harder to concentrate. If you are continuously not getting enough sleep, you increase the chances you develop heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure, among other conditions.
By getting enough sleep every night — between seven to nine hours is recommended — you can sharpen your learning and problem-solving skills while increasing your attention span, creativity, and decision-making capabilities.
Don’t abuse drugs or alcohol
If you’ve ever had a hangover after a night of overindulgence, you probably have a good idea of why alcohol and drugs aren’t good for your physical health. What you might not know is that alcohol and drug use is also associated with mental health problems including depression, anxiety, and having an overall negative outlook on life.
By ditching drugs and alcohol, you’ll improve your mental and physical health. While you’re at it, substitute those substances for healthy meals and exercise and you’ll compound your gains.
Many of us go through life without stopping to smell the proverbial roses. By forcing yourself to pay more attention to the present moment, you can become more in tune with your own body, which can help reduce depression and anxiety — and even help you manage chronic pain. This is all possible by practicing mindfulness, a meditative practice inspired by Buddhist teachings.
See your primary care provider
Chances are you take your car in for regular oil changes and tune-ups. In a similar fashion, you should take yourself into your primary care provider’s office on a regular basis. After all, your health can change rapidly. The sooner you detect something is wrong with your body, the faster you can be on the road to recovery. By developing a strong relationship with a primary care doctor and committing to it, you can increase your physical and mental well-being.
Talk to a therapist
Similarly, if you’re struggling with your mental or physical health, you might need more help than a doctor can give you. This is where it makes perfect sense to join forces with a trusted therapist who can help you overcome problems, change the way you think about things, and manage any mental health issues you may be experiencing.
Since there’s a strong connection between a healthy mind and body, a therapist can be particularly helpful when it comes to resolving the issues you face. When you have a strong relationship with a therapist, you’ll have someone to lean on as needed, which can help you maintain a good quality of life no matter what curveballs come your way.
That said, you can’t just choose any therapist and expect great results. Instead, you’ll need to do your due diligence to increase the chances you pick the best therapist for your needs. After you determine what you’re looking for in a mental health professional, start your search for a therapist online and begin the healing process.
If you think you need more than a therapist, check out the GoodTherapy Recovery Treatment Centers (RTCs) who are your allies in fighting any addictions you might be experiencing.
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