Research shows that a person’s mental and physical health depend on one another. You may have noticed a link between feeling overwhelmingly stressed and a decrease in physical motivation. The resulting lack of activity can lead to physical health problems.
Experts state that one-third of individuals with serious physical health problems experience mental health problems too. Those mental health problems, such as anxiety or depression, could be caused by physical discomfort, low mobility or a variety of other issues associated with less-than-ideal physical health.
Unfortunately, mental and physical health problems can feed one another. However, there’s a brighter side to the story too. An improvement in physical health can lead to an improvement in mental health and vice versa.
Learn more about the connection between physical and mental health and how taking care of both can help you live life to the fullest.
How Physical Health Affects Mental Health
Your physical health can benefit or take a toll on your mental health. For example, a major health incident, such as a cancer diagnosis or a heart attack, may lead to depression, anxiety or excess stress as you worry about the next steps to take.
About one in three people with serious physical health conditions experience depression symptoms, such as difficulty sleeping, a saddened mood or a lack of interest in activities they once loved.
How Mental Health Affects Physical Health
Just as poor physical health can take a toll on mental health, poor mental health can take a toll on physical health. The opposite is true as well: An elevated mental state may help prevent some common and serious physical health problems. Positive mental health has been shown to reduce the risk of a stroke or heart attack in some cases.
Unfortunately, mental health issues such as depression and schizophrenia are linked to serious health concerns, such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, respiratory diseases and more. Mental health problems can make the process of coping with a chronic illness more difficult.
An example of mental health affecting physical health is that 50-80% of individuals with mental health conditions struggle with sleep problems. Those sleep problems can make mental health conditions worse, resulting in poorer physical health.
Similarly, individuals with mental health conditions are more likely to take up smoking or smoke more cigarettes than those without such conditions. Smoking can become an addiction and lead to serious health problems, including cancer, respiratory issues and others.
Improving Mental and Physical Health Together
The correlation between mental and physical health is not all doom and gloom. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Improving your mental health can have a positive impact on your physical health and vice versa. There are also several simple steps you can take to improve physical and mental health at the same time.
Take steps toward relaxation
Several relaxation strategies help reduce stress and anxiety, such as deep breathing techniques, meditation or enrolling in yoga classes.
Get a good night’s sleep
This is one that may be easier said than done, but a good night’s sleep can have a major impact on your mental and physical health. Shoot for seven to nine hours of sleep each night.
It’s amazing what regular exercise can do for mental and physical health. Exercise has been proven to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression while improving blood pressure and the symptoms of arthritis and diabetes.
Focus on the positive
Take time every day to be thankful for the positive aspects of your life. Gratitude can go a long way in improving your mood and ultimately, your mental and physical health. Focus on small wins, like a delicious lunch or a smooth day at work.
Nutrition plays a significant role in overall physical and mental health. A professional nutritionist can help you develop a diet that suits your specific needs.
Don’t do it alone
Talking to others about the stresses, physical health concerns and other difficulties in life can help you cope with them. Don’t hesitate to seek professional mental health treatment to combat mental health conditions, which also improves your physical health.
Understanding the connection between mental and physical health creates a solid foundation for protecting against and healing from many health conditions. Your path to better physical and mental health can begin today with a few simple lifestyle changes and the help of qualified professionals.