Physical and Mental Health: Why You Need Both for Overall Well Being
Your lifestyle choices determine your overall well being, and vice-versa.
Now, your overall well-being is determined by your mental and physical health. Both of these are equally important, and none of us should be cutting any corners when it comes to our dedication to improving and maintaining either. The two share a deep connection, making them dependent on each other.
Let’s take a comprehensive look at this connection and gain a deeper understanding of what impacts our overall well being.
Making the Connection
Mental health covers various factors including our ability to deal with stress, recognize and accept our strengths and weaknesses, and realize our potential. It refers to a state of emotional, psychological, and social wellness.
On the other hand, physical health or wellness refers to the optimal functioning of the physical body. This just means that all things considered, our body is functioning at its best within a particular period of time.
So how are the two connected?
The answer – lifestyle.
Mental Health and Your Physical State
Mental illness or even poor mental health in general presents itself in a wide range of symptoms. They manifest as poor sleeping patterns, unhealthy food choices, loss of energy, mood swings, and decline in overall functioning. Poor mental health is pervasive and impacts all aspects of your life, whether it’s occupational, social, or personal.
Sometimes, the impact of mental health on your physical state can be more direct, triggering more obvious physical ailments.
For example, some studies show that depression can weaken your immune system. Constant anxiety can cause fatigue and exhaustion. Similarly, anger and stress are closely linked to poor cardiovascular health.
Poor mental health negatively affects our ability to make sound lifestyle choices. Poor self-esteem or self-worth could manifest in neglect towards our physical well being. It impacts our motivation and drive to exercise and make other healthy lifestyle choices.
This in turn results in poor physical health.
Chronic Illness and Mental Health
Now one thing we must keep in mind that addressing our mental health will not optimize our physical health. It will likely improve it, but both of these factors need individual attention. This is especially true for those of us who are living with chronic illnesses.
For example, 15-20% of people diagnosed with cancer also live with major depressive disorder. While specific types of therapy can address this kind of depression, it is also true that consistent medical care for physical illness is also necessary to manage symptoms.
Impacts Your Overall Well-Being
When we talk about the connection between mental and physical health, it often goes back to the baffling question – what came first, the chicken or the egg? Did poor mental health negatively impact our physical health, or was it the other way around?
The answer can vary from person to person, but what remains constant is the fact that a change in lifestyle choices can greatly improve both aspects of our overall well-being. Poor sleep is linked to excessive weight gain, which, in turn, could affect mobility and increase your risk for diseases like diabetes, cancer, and high blood pressure.
Similarly, a poor diet could also put you at risk for developing nutritional deficiencies which could impact your physical as well as mental health. For example, a deficiency in vitamin B-12 could cause fatigue, depression, ulcers, glossitis, and so on.
Your Road to Optimal Functioning
While we should see the specialized medical professionals to treat specific mental and physical ailments, we must also focus on developing a healthier lifestyle. Let’s look at what habits we need to incorporate into our daily lives to maximize our well-being.
A Healthy Sleeping Routine
Getting a good night’s sleep every day will go a long way in ensuring that our immune system is functioning at its best. Getting 6-8 hours of sleep will also help boost your memory, maximize the benefits of exercise, and make sure your body is sufficiently rested to perform optimally for the next day.
Coping With Stress
Stress is an inevitable part of life. Learning to manage this stress in a healthy way is what will help us sleep better at night, prevent stress-induced headaches, and reduce our chances of contracting heart disease.
Simple mindfulness techniques, yoga, exercise, social interactions, and enjoyable hobbies are all great for a bit of stress release.
Diet and Nutrition
A well-balanced diet is key to making sure we get all the nutrients we need to function at our mental and physical best. Planning your meals, eating less processed foods, and making sure you get enough calories to sustain your body and mind are all the hallmarks of every good diet plan.
However, do keep in mind that every diet or nutrition plan must be designed for long-term sustainability. Trendy new diets that promise overnight fixes are not an option. Instead, look towards making healthy changes every day that grow into habits over a period of time.
Whether you like to exercise or not, the truth is it is absolutely essential for good mental and physical health. Not only does it keep your joints and bones strong, but it also triggers the release of the feel-good hormone dopamine.
Aim to get at least 30-45 minutes worth of movement at least five days a week. Sounds hard?
The good news is, you don’t have to limit yourself to the gym if you don’t want to. You can dance, walk, swim, play a sport you enjoy, run around with your kids, or play fetch with your furry friends at the park. Find something you enjoy that involves movement, and you’ll be more likely to be consistent.
Better Health Begins Today
A good lifestyle will only boost your mental and physical well being. Now that you understand the importance of following a good diet, leading an active lifestyle, and getting deep and consistent sleep, you’re one step close to optimizing your overall well-being.
Take this information and look at practical ways you can incorporate these habits into your life. Start small but start today, and consistency and dedication, you’ll be sure to see the difference!
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