The Connection Between Physical Health and Mental Wellness
We are told for most of our lives the importance of being physically active. While this may be mostly for physical health, the impact it has on our mental wellness is significant. But what exactly is that connection that makes these two so important for us?
Let’s learn ⬇️
What is physical health?
Physical health refers to the condition of the body and its ability to carry out daily activities efficiently without experiencing undue fatigue, pain, or discomfort. This can be linked to lifestyle habits such as regular exercise, proper nutrition, adequate sleep, and avoidance of harmful substances like tobacco and excessive alcohol.
But why is it important? Well, the World Health Organization has a lot of key findings in this area including:
- Significant benefits for hearts, bodies, and mind
- Contributes to preventing and managing noncommunicable diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and diabetes
- Reduces symptoms of depression and anxiety
- Enhances thinking, learning, and judgment skills
- Ensures healthy growth and development in young people
- Improves overall well-being
All of this is a pretty good reason to keep up good physical health. But what about mental wellness?
What is mental wellness?
Mental wellness refers to the state of overall psychological well-being, which includes emotional, social, and cognitive aspects of a person’s life. It involves the ability to cope with the daily stresses of life, build and maintain positive relationships, and make meaningful contributions to society.
Mental wellness can be achieved through developing healthy habits by doing the following:
- Practicing mindfulness
- Engaging in regular physical exercise
- Getting adequate sleep
- Managing stress effectively
- Seeking professional help when needed
Mental wellness is important because it impacts your overall health and well-being. It can have a significant impact on a person’s quality of life. It enables individuals to lead fulfilling lives, build resilience, and adapt to challenges and changes that may arise.
Benefits of maintaining physical health for mental wellness
According to the Mental Health Foundation, “Nearly 1 in 3 people with a long-term physical health condition also has a mental health problem, most often depression or anxiety.”
Exercise has been shown to release endorphins. Endorphins are hormones that are released when your body feels pain or stress. They are produced in your brain and act as messengers in your body. They help relieve pain, reduce stress, and improve mood.
A healthy diet, rich in nutrients, can also positively impact mental wellness by providing the necessary fuel and nutrients for proper brain function. This helps us think clearly and feel more alert. While having an inadequate diet can lead to fatigue, impaired decision-making, and a slow down reaction time.
Engaging in regular physical activity can help regulate your sleep cycle and improve the quality of your sleep. Good sleep is essential for maintaining mental health, and a lack of sleep can lead to increased stress, anxiety, and mood disturbances.
Exercise can help improve self-esteem and body image, which can positively impact mental health. Physical activity can also provide a sense of accomplishment and help build confidence, which can contribute to overall well-being.
Benefits of maintaining mental wellness for physical health
Maintaining good mental health and wellness can have significant benefits for physical health and well-being. According to a study published in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research, individuals with higher levels of psychological well-being were found to have lower levels of inflammation, a key marker of physical health.
Reduced Risk of Chronic Diseases
Mental wellness can help reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. For example, managing stress levels and maintaining a positive outlook on life can help lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease.
Better Immune Function
Mental wellness can improve immune function and help the body fight off infections and diseases. Chronic stress, anxiety, and depression can weaken the immune system, making it more susceptible to illnesses.
Good mental health can improve overall energy levels and reduce feelings of fatigue. A positive mindset and sense of purpose can help motivate individuals to engage in physical activity and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Improved Quality of Life
Good mental health can improve the overall quality of life by promoting positive social connections, improving self-esteem, and reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression. High quality of life can contribute to a healthier and more active lifestyle, which can positively impact physical health.
Way to Improve Physical Health and Mental Wellness
There are a lot of really smart people out there who have done lots of research on this topic. So what are ways they say you can improve both physical and mental health?
Well first, make sure you enjoy doing the activity you are participating in. For instance, maybe you would rather do some gardening in the evening than lift weights at the gym. Or perhaps you would like to play basketball with your children after school.
Second, set reasonable goals for yourself. Think realistically about how you would like to tailor your physical activity to match your desired outcome of mental wellness. Try a few different activities and determine what your need and abilities are rather than setting unrealistic guidelines for yourself.
You can also analyze your barriers. Are there certain thoughts that arise when you think about exercise? If so, what are they and why are you experiencing them? If you can find what is stopping you from exercising you can most likely find an alternative situation.
Now for some very direct ways to improve your physical health and wellness that we think could help.
- Regular exercise
- Healthy diet
- Adequate sleep
- Stress management techniques
- Social support
At SohoMD, we take a personalized approach - your concierge of care - creating a customized treatment plan with the right mix of modalities, medicines, supplements, and lifestyle changes for your whole life. Find a provider today.
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