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The Connection Between Physical and Mental Health…

10/04/2019
The Connection Between Physical and Mental Health

Over the past years, physical and mental health have been regarded as separate components of our general well-being. However, recent studies have found a strong connection between the two.

Experts have found out that poor mental health can cause serious physical conditions and vice versa, that bad physical health can lead to serious mental disorders.

That’s why it is important to keep a balance between the body and the mind. It is equally essential to take care of our physical health as well as our mental health.

If we’re physically healthy, there are more chances that we’ll be mentally healthy too. Even in today’s busy lifestyles, we need to find time to take care of ourselves and find our inner peace. 

#1 The impact of mental health on physical health

Researchers have found connections between certain mental illnesses such as distress, depression and schizophrenia and various physical health impairments such as cancer, coronary heart disease, and respiratory disease.

They have concluded that the reason for this is the fact that people suffering from mental illnesses don’t receive regular physical healthcare they are supposed to. They are less likely to receive their regular routine check-ups such as blood pressure, weight, and cholesterol levels, which ultimately reveal a possible physical health condition.

There are also fewer chances for them to be helped with giving up some bad habits such as cigarettes and alcohol and adapting their diet to a healthier one.

#2 The impact of physical health on mental health

Two of the biggest mental health problems in present-day are certainly depression and anxiety. A large number of people around the world suffers from the aforementioned diseases. And what has led to this state? Well, many aspects of modern life such as focus on money and image resulting in social isolation, poor diet, and inactivity among others.

It is familiar that doing exercise stimulates the body to produce the feel-good hormones which affect our general mood. It has recently been found that physical exercise not only preserves mental health but it also treats some chronic diseases such as depression and anxiety.  

#3 Self-help through changes in our lifestyle

Good news is that you can take the matters into your own hands and make some changes to your lifestyle in order to achieve better mental and physical health. There are some key aspects you need to focus on.

Physical exercise

Having physical exercise on a regular basis is beneficial for both our physical health, which is certainly obvious and for our mental health, which is maybe not so obvious.

Physical exercise affects our body in such a way that it helps control our weight, it’s advantageous to our muscles and bones, it increases our energy levels, it reduces the risk of chronic diseases, etc.

As far as our mental health is concerned, physical exercise improves our brain function by releasing endorphins, which decrease the symptoms of depression and anxiety.

You can accomplish the weekly amount of exercise by doing yoga a few times a week or simply by taking a walk on a daily basis. There are many long-term health benefits you will experience concerning your mood, attention, and memory.

Diet

A healthy and balanced diet works well both for our bodies and mind. There are certain foods that are referred to as the ‘brain food’ such as fish, berries, nuts and seeds and whole grains among others.

Numerous studies have found out that the regular intake of unhealthy food leads to increased risk of depression, anxiety, and ADHD. It has also been proven that depression symptoms were lowered after switching to a healthier diet including fruits and vegetables, legumes and fish oil supplements. 

Sleep

Deprivation of sleep is common nowadays. It is usually due to busy and hectic lifestyles we tend to lead but it is something that we should definitely work on since sleep is tightly related to our physical and mental health.

Lack of sleep over a longer period of time can lead to depression, anxiety, stress, weight gain, and heart disease among others. Researches established a high correlation between depression and sleep quality, where most people suffering from depression reported issues in sleep quality. Insufficient sleep affects many parts of our brain which eventually have negative effects on our mental health.

Social life and creativity

Recent studies have also detected a connection between one’s social life and their mental and consequently physical health. Namely, they found that people who have a rich social life and strong ties to their friends and family members tend not only to lower the chances of depression but also tend to live longer and happier lives.

So, start spending even more time with your loved ones – the chances are you’ll be healthier and more content. Moreover, we can reinforce and strengthen our hand-brain connection by engaging in crafting activities such as knitting, painting or working with wood. 

General benefits of physical exercise

#4 General benefits of physical exercise

Among numerous advantages performing regular physical exercise brings upon us we can incorporate sharper and clearer memory and thinking generally, acquiring higher self-esteem, having a better and sound sleep, obtaining more energy and developing stronger resilience. 

Sharper memory

The aforementioned endorphins released by doing physical exercise not only make you feel better but also help you focus and feel mentally sharp for any task ahead of you. The releasing of endorphins promotes the growth of new brain cells along the way. It also puts away brain decline all people face as they grow old. 

Higher self-esteem

When you invest time and effort in doing exercise, you invest not only in your body and mind but your soul as well. Feeling good about your appearance prompts you to feel self-confident and self-worth. This is of key importance not only for ourselves as individuals but also for the world globally.

According to a famous plastic surgeon Dr Farhadeih, “Our best is gifted to the World around us when we have self-belief and confidence. Confidence captivates. Confidence is beautiful”. He also noted that when we have confidence, we can do anything.

Also, accomplishing even the smallest physical tasks you put upon yourself contributes to boosting your sense of achievement. Its ultimate goal is to make you feel strong and powerful, both mentally and physically. 

Better sleep

No matter the length of exercises we conduct and the time of the day we do them in, they will all have the same effect on our sleep resulting in more regular sleep patterns. Nevertheless, you should leave more active exercises for the day and more calmer ones if you prefer to exercise at night.  

More energy

If you suffer from lack of energy, it is high time you started exercising and boosting your energy levels slowly, day by day. Don’t overwhelm your body with too much exercise from day one. Start slowly and build your way to more powerful and energetic physical sessions.

Stronger resilience

Overall, engaging in routine physical activities on a daily or a weekly basis acts positively on our immune system and it decreases the amount of stress we process every day. It also helps us deal with the emotional challenges that life puts in front of us in a healthy way. If we lack this, we can easily turn to alcohol, drugs, and medication for a quick-fix solution.

#5 Mental conditions vs. physical exercise

Physical exercise has many positive effects and some of them can be observed in preventing and curing some mental health problems a lot of people face today. Some of these problems include depression, anxiety, and stress. 

Depression

Medical condition such as depression is usually treated with medication, but as it has been demonstrated in some studies, some forms of depression (from mild to moderate) are treated successfully by doing physical exercise.

When compared, the results of taking anti-depressant medication and doing physical exercise are the same, with physical exercises having no side effects. Doing regular exercises has certain effects on our brain; it aids neural growth, decreases inflammation and creates new activity patterns which stimulate positive feelings.

Doing exercise also acts as a powerful energy booster and allows you to get away from all the negative thoughts that could possibly lead to depression. 

Anxiety

As already noted, physical exercise brings us nothing but positive effects. It is a great stress and tension reliever as well. We can reap even more benefits if we focus on what we do and try to be fully aware and concentrated. This element of mindfulness teaches us to listen to and feel our bodies while we work out. It’s one way to prevent everyday problems from getting in your way of mental stability. 

Stress

When we’re under stress, both our bodies and mind feel that. Stress is usually reflected in some physical symptoms we tend to experience.

These symptoms can vary from experiencing tense muscles in your face, neck, shoulders and back; having strong headaches; feeling tightness in your chest, a pounding pulse or muscle cramps.

There are some other possible problems such as insomnia, heartburn, and stomachache. With these discomforts on your back, you feel even more stressed so you get stuck in a never-ending circle of stress manifested in health problems. A great way to end this circle is once again – physical exercise. At the end, when your mind feels well so will your body.

Mental conditions vs. physical exercise

#6 How to overcome barriers we face

Certain obstacles often impede our attempts for a regular physical workout. Their nature is diverse and quite unique, as they usually result from our personal, regular everyday activities and problems we must deal with.

Exhaustion

When you feel completely drained and tired, your regular daily exercises can seem like mission impossible. In fact, this is a common misconception. When we’re experiencing feelings of exhaustion, that’s the time for carrying out our planned physical activities since our energy levels boost, even if we invested a small amount of effort. Doing any kind of physical activity is an effective booster. 

Tight schedule

Like many people these days, we all sometimes tend to feel overwhelmed with our work, obligations, family, etc. This leads to being stressed out all the time and not having enough time to do all we’re supposed to do and let alone fit into our busy schedule some kind of physical activity!

In any case, we should always remember one thing: by doing some physical activities we’ll be able to do everything else better. With this thinking and by making the physical workout a priority, we’re sure you’ll manage to fit even the smallest amount of physical exercise into your hectic schedule. 

Zero point

Even if you haven’t done any kind of physical exercise so far (except the ones at school), you can still easily start working on it. Start informing yourself on the right kinds of exercises, the proper timing, and pace and you’ll see the results in no time.

There are probably more people with the same weight, age, and fitness level as yourself. Talk to them, observe their experiences and tailor your own way to a happy, healthy and fulfilled life.

Set small fitness goals for yourself and as you accomplish them, make them more complex and physically demanding. Nothing compares to feelings of satisfaction you’ll experience when you accomplish even the small ones. 

Health or physical impediment

If you have some impediments related to your health or body, such as arthritis, some disability, weight problem or any injury, that doesn’t mean you can’t do any exercise. No. That means you must consult your doctor for ways and types of safe exercises for your condition. You can parse your presumed exercise time into shorter intervals or you can practice in water to reduce muscle discomfort.  

In the end, it comes up to this: if we have sane mental health then we’re more inclined to have good physical health and vice versa. The two are tightly connected and we must take care of both of them equally.

We shouldn’t deprive ourselves of a healthy and balanced diet, sound sleep and regular physical activity as this can cause many health-related problems. Our health should be our number one priority. 

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