It has been proven that our mental and physical health are fundamentally linked together. Experiencing long-term stress, depression or anxiety can lead to poor physical health.
If you have poor physical health it can also eventually lead to poor mental health. If you believe the two are not linked, you are on the wrong path.
Having low energy levels because of depression or stress is why you don’t feel like going to the gym or eating healthy. Right? But, eating unhealthy, processed foods for a long period of time and neglecting your gym time can turn into serious consequences for your physical and mental health.
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connection between our mental and physical and mental health
People tend to misunderstand the link between “mind” and “body” and they often separate the two completely. The truth, however, is that our mental health has a direct impact on our physical health. The two are incredibly closely linked together and cannot be separated from each other.
A study from 2009 found that 22% of patients with heart disease also experience depressive disorders from mild to severe. 17% took antidepressants. Many chronic physical illnesses can cause higher rates of depression, but depressive disorders can also cause chronic physical illnesses.
Mental health problems are becoming more and more common all over the world. If you have poor mental health it can eventually affect your ability to make healthy decisions.
When I am at my lowest, I am definitely not thinking about eating healthy food or going to the gym. This often results in me gaining weight. Being overweight can lead to much more serious health complications, such as:
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Weakened immune system
- Gastronomical problems
- Premature death
Don’t ignore your mental health – seek help!
Unfortunately, too many people ignore symptoms of their mental health and they end up seeking help only after a crisis has occurred (such as a panic attack!) in their lives. If you get the correct help earlier, it can prevent serious mental health conditions from developing further.
I am speaking from personal experience as well. The mental health problems I am dealing with has turned into chronic illnesses because I didn’t get the help I needed years ago.
Getting help in the early stages means that you have a chance of sorting out your priorities and organizing your life in a way that will benefit you in the long run.
Eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly helps a lot of people improve their mental health. And by improving your mental health, you also improve your physical health.
A mental health expert will be able to tell you whether you need prescribed medication or counseling. If you don’t get the correct help, your mental health will eventually affect your physical health if it remains untreated.
What can you do on your own?
If you are unsure as to whether you have experienced any symptoms of stress, anxiety or depression, I would advise you to start a journal for a couple of weeks. Every day, you can try to write down how you are feeling. Try to answer the following:
- What happened that caused you to feel sad, irritated, angry, down, worried, etc.?
- What are your feelings about this situation?
- Do you know what triggered these feelings?
- Can you do anything to solve this issue?
- Do you find it hard to let these feelings go? Why?
Once you have done this for a few weeks, you can see if there is a pattern in your feelings. If feelings of sadness, irritation or being worried are showing up regularly or even daily, there is a risk that you have either depression or anxiety. You can take your journal to a mental health professional, who will be able to diagnose you correctly.
Learn more about why journaling is an amazing tool for anxiety & depression!
What other things can you do for yourself?
There is a good reason why I bring up regular exercise again and again. I am very well aware that it may be the absolute last thing you want to do when you are depressed, but hear me out before you say no!
Doing regular exercise will release feel-good chemicals in your brain, also known as endorphins and serotonin. These chemicals will help reduce symptoms of depressive disorders and anxious feelings. There are many ways you can exercise.
You don’t have to run. A good, long walk in nature works just as well. The most important thing when you exercise is that you find something that works for you. Personally, I hate running, but I love swimming and doing yoga and pilates.
Do you want to learn more about why your happy chemicals matter to your mental health?
I know eating a healthy, well-balanced diet has also been brought up again and again. I promise there is a good reason for this as well. Eating a lot of carbs has been shown to increase depression and anxiety.
Avoid skipping meals as well, as this can lead to fatigue, which will lead to snacking. Include fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, fish and healthy fats into your meals.
If you want to improve your mental health, learn why a healthy diet is essential to improving your mental health!
Avoid sleeping too much or too little
If you don’t sleep enough you can become more depressed and stressed because your energy levels are lower than usual. Sleeping too much can do the same.
- Sleep 101: how sleep affects your mental health
- Do you have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep?
- How to calm your anxious mind and get some sleep
Talk to your friends and family. Be open about your situation and issues. Tell them how you are feeling and what has been going on in your life. Mental health problems can be a difficult topic to discuss with your friends and family, especially if they have not been in your situation before.
It will be difficult for them to understand if they have not experienced this themselves, but talking to friends and family and being open about your situation, will make you feel better and people will then know what you are feeling at the moment.
My 2 Favorite books for increasing your mental and physical health
Studies suggest that by thinking positive and shifting your focus from illness to wellness, you can aim to seek great improvement in your mental and physical health.
“How Your Mind Can Heal Your Body: 10th-Anniversary Edition” – by David R. Hamilton.
Dr. Hamilton is known for his theories about the mind-body connection. How Your Mind Can Heal Your Body is filled to the brim by using your imagination and positive thinking to affect our mental health in a positive way and defeat diseases, pain, and illness.
I found this to be a book full of amazing, lovely written content. Dr. Hamilton is full of hope and optimism. I definitely recommend this as a beautiful and inspiring read.
“The Highly Sensitive Person’s Workbook” by Elaine N. Aron
Do you consider yourself highly sensitive? Do you quickly and easily get overwhelmed by too much noise? Then you may be a highly sensitive person. I am, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that as long as you learn how to control it.
In this workbook, you get to identify your specific sensitivities. It provides actual insights as to why 20% of the population experience life so different from the majority, who set the norms in our society. It’s an amazing read.
I know how difficult it can be to admit to yourself that you are having mental health problems. Because you don’t want to admit to yourself, that you may be different from others. I went through years of depression and anxiety before I finally had a serious break-down and a reality-check.
Because I didn’t admit it to myself, I am now experiencing chronic depression, stress and anxiety and I are getting professional counseling finally, even when I should have had it years ago.
The truth is that the link between my mental and physical health is there. My physical health has gotten worse in the last 4 years because my mental health was bad for a long time. I didn’t take care of my mental and physical health for too long, and I should have. I know that now.
My therapist has actually advised me to write all my thoughts and my experience down, which is what I have been doing in the past few months and it is now turning into this blog. This way I will be able to help others with the same diagnoses as myself.
What are your thoughts on the link between our mental and physical health? Let me know in the comments below…
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