There is a fundamental understanding that your mental health is linked to your physical health, and one can undoubtedly influence the other. Poor physical health can induce mental strain, and mental health conditions can play a significant role in the development of physical health complications. In order to be completely healthy, you must put equal importance on caring for mental, physical, and emotional health.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “health is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” There is a connection between your thoughts and the components of the brain responsible for controlling bodily functions. Thoughts can influence hormone production from the endocrine system, which controls a lot of the inner workings of the body. Unhappy or stress-related thoughts may not directly cause physical pain, but they may explain why one person experiences physical suffering and why the other person does not.
How Does The Mind Affect The Body?
The mind can affect physical health in many ways. Consider that people with depression have a higher risk of developing chronic illnesses, such as stroke, diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. A review of studies on the link between depression and diabetes found that people with depression had a 41% higher risk for diabetes than those who were not depressed. Additionally, mental or emotional distress can take the form of physical symptoms, for example, insomnia, lethargy, lack of appetite, or constipation.
Food is necessary for survival and the mind and body are connected when it comes to food consumption. What you eat can influence behavior, mood, and cognition, but it can also lead to poor digestion, diabetes, and chronic inflammation. Studies have shown that people who eat more processed foods have a higher risk of developing a mental health disorder. People with deficiencies in micronutrients and omega-3s, for instance, are more prone to feeling depressed. Consider how your nutritional habits affect your physical and mental health.
Sleep is the body’s way of naturally recuperating, and having quality sleep every night can make your days stress-free instead of fatigued and restless. A healthy sleep cycle can keep you sane, whereas an unhealthy sleep schedule can put undue stress on mental health. Sleep troubles have been linked to bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, and depression. Adequate sleep can regulate hormones and emotions, keeping you calm in both the mind and body.
After being diagnosed with a short-term or chronic illness, it is common for people to feel shocked, angry, and sad. Suppressing these emotions can lead to another diagnosis of depression, anxiety, or even chronic stress. The physical diagnosis can worsen the mental diagnosis and vice versa. Additionally, the mental stress can interfere with the recovery and maintenance of the physical condition.
It is widely known that physical activity is linked with both physical and mental health benefits. Regular exercise has been known to decrease depression symptoms, stimulate healthy digestion, and boost self-esteem and resilience. Exercising can help boost the brain’s serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine levels, which can improve mental well-being. 30 minutes of exercise a day for at least five days per week has been proven to be more effective at treating eating disorders than other therapies, and regular exercise helps relieve tension or stress via endorphin production.
When you accept that your mental health and physical health are linked, you can start developing strategies to find a harmonious balance and make forward strides in both areas.