You’ve probably wondered whether there is any connection between your physical health and your mental health and the other way around. Some of us assume that the two are separate from one another but it is not so. According to the World Health Organisation, “health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”. Let’s explore this concept by identifying several ways how physical health is connected to mental health. As you read through each category, think of how your own mind-body connection either negatively impacts your life or enhances your well-being.
- Nutrition – Eating is a part and parcel of our daily lives. Food intake is very important for mind-body connection. The food we eat is not only necessary to keep us energized throughout the day, but it is also necessary for out mental health. It is rightly said, “the food we eat is associated with our mood, behaviour and cognition” and is therefore intertwined with our overall well-being. There are many factors that can contribute to poor or inadequate diets and as a result can cause long-term detriments to both the physical and mental well-being of an individual.
- Hydration – Water is a vital component of our daily lives and it is common knowledge that every individual needs to be hydrated to sustain. However, very few in the society are aware about the correlation between hydration and mental health. Did you know, even mild dehydration can alter a person’s mood, energy level and ability to think clearly. If you are not well hydrated, your ability to concentrate, stay alert, and even recall certain events or memories may be hampered.
- Exercise – Physical activity is linked with a long list of mental health benefits, from reducing symptoms of depression to increasing self-esteem, resilience and alertness. One reason behind this is that there is more oxygen getting through your brain thus making it more efficient in recalling data and other information. If you are feeling blue, working out can actually make you feel better. According to research, physical activity immediately boosts the brain’s dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin levels” which can benefit an individual’s mental well-being and reduce symptoms related to mental health disorders. Even a tad bit of exercise can be helpful in maintaining physical as well as mental well being.
- Sleep – It is seen that when you do not get adequate amount of sleep, your mental faculties get hampered because of which you energy level and productivity for the day is reduced and the stress level and fatigue is high. Lack of sleep can eventually lead to sleep disorders such as, insomnia, ADHD and bipolar disorder to name a few. According to the neuroimaging and neurochemistry studies, “a good night’s sleep helps foster both mental and emotional resilience, while chronic sleep disruptions set the stage for negative thinking and emotional vulnerability.”
- Illness – A diagnosis of a chronic or short-term illness can bring on many emotions including shock, regret, anger and most, perhaps most commonly, sadness. Prolonged feelings of sadness can relate to diagnosis of the mental health condition of anxiety, stress or depression which can impact an individual’s life in profound ways. When these feelings are not addressed as soon as possible, it can lead to further mental breakdown which can also affect your physical condition. It is a vicious cycle that can be broken if we take care of our physical health all the time.
- Social well-being – How well a person feels in connection with friends, family, co-workers, classmates, and others in their lives is directly connected to their overall emotional and mental well-being. Poor social connections or overall social well-being is associated with poor emotional health and may even exacerbate mental health conditions such as depression.
- Substance use – Substance use can refer to alcohol, illicit drug use, medication, or tobacco-use. The use of any of these substances can impact on the physical and mental well-being of a person, but can also cause mental health concerns to become much worse. Individuals diagnosed with a mental health disorder such as depression are more likely to smoke, drink or use drugs; but the use of these substances can alleviate some symptoms connected to mental health diagnoses and may be used as a coping mechanism but are detrimental to an individual’s health.
Every physical issue we have begins with the energetic level. The more in tune we are with our energetic, emotional and mental states, the better we can understand our physical well-being. And the more we are physically fit, the better we can handle our mental health. This blog post identified 7 proven ways that health and mental health are connected and interconnected and we hope it has helped to identify tangible areas that these two very important parts of us are connected.