7 Ways Your Physical Health is Connected to Your Mental Health

Mental health is often one of the biggest aspects of health that is underestimated and neglected. In fact, many people don’t realise that mental health and physical health are intricately connected and that both can affect each other.

Here are 7 ways your physical and mental health are connected and how to improve the relationship.

1)      Nutrition

Not only is food intake necessary for survival, it’s also one of the most important aspects of the mind-body connection. The food that we consume is linked to our moods, behaviours and cognitive function in many ways. Recent studies have shown that an increase in processed food consumption may be affecting the increase in mental health problems, including depression. Deficiencies in micronutrients and Omega 3 fatty acids have also been shown to increase the likelihood of depression.

Try chatting with a nutritionist to evaluate your diet if you suspect you may be feeling more melancholy than usual.

2)      Hydration

Everyone knows that water is vital for everyday living and most people try to drink the recommended eight glasses a day, but many people don’t realise that not drinking enough water can lead to headaches, lack of concentration, and fatigue and anger in cases of on-going mild dehydration. The elderly, in particular, are prone to delirium when not getting enough water, which often comes across as the onset of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.

Make a concerted effort to drink eight glasses of water a day and if it’s too hard, try drinking tea or eating foods that are high in water such as cucumber or lettuce.

3)      Exercise

Exercise releases endorphins and endorphins make you feel good. It’s common knowledge but sometimes, to actually get up and go, makes things a little harder. Physical activity has been known to boost dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin levels in the brain which all help reduce depression, increase self-esteem and reduce symptoms of mental illness.

Try to get at least 30 minutes of exercise, no matter how insignificant it may seem. Even 30 minutes of physical activity can reduce anxiety and get the blood pumping and release endorphins.

4)      Sleep

Sleep is vital to function optimally, and a lack of sleep can also cause serious consequences on a person’s mental well-being. Getting enough sleep can help maintain emotional regulation; sleeplessness can lead to irritability, changes in mood, increase in angry outbursts or bouts of crying. Chronic sleep problems have been linked to depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders & ADHD so it’s important to make sure you get enough sleep.

If you’re suffering from insomnia, chat to your doctor about a solution to ensure you’re able to get enough sleep.

5)      Substance abuse

Although it can be hard for many people to admit they may have a substance abuse problem, it can have a serious effect on your mental health. Alcohol or drugs are often used to mask depression, which can make the problem worse. Drugs also contain chemicals which can wreak havoc with the natural chemicals in your brain.

If you suspect you have a substance abuse problem, no matter how small or big, ask for help as soon as possible.

6)      Illness

Many illnesses bring a host of emotions with them, including anger, sadness, shock, and regret. Feeling these emotions after receiving a bad diagnosis is perfectly natural, but it’s important to chat with someone about and process the diagnosis and your feelings. Prolonged sadness can lead to depression which can be prevented.

Chat with your doctor about illness management in order to help improve your overall well-being.

7)      Social

Socialising is an important aspect of life, even for the most introverted of people. Poor social connections or overall social well-being is associated with poor emotional health and may even exacerbate mental health conditions such as depression. Surround yourself with positive people you get on well with – this can help you feel more positive about life and help manage bad days or circumstances better.

 

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