Your mind and body are closely connected. For instance, when you exercise, your body releases feel-good chemicals which lift your mood and reduce stress. On the other hand, poor mental health can encourage a sedentary lifestyle which will increase your risk of health conditions like type two diabetes and heart disease.
In this article, we will discuss the link between your physical and mental health and give you tips on how to look after your mind and body.
The link between your physical and mental health
An example of this mind-body connection is how your body responds to stress. Being stressed can harm your health in many ways, especially in your kidneys. Experts at the National Kidney Foundation explain how too much stress can increase your blood pressure and cause long-term damage to your kidneys.
According to Helping Hands, “30% of all people with a long-term physical health condition also experience poor mental health, most commonly depression and/or anxiety.” Ultimately, poor physical health can increase your chance of developing mental health problems and poor mental health can then affect your physical health.
Learning how stress and other mental health issues impact your health, and finding ways to manage it, will help you lead a healthier and happier lifestyle. Below, we will discuss some of the best ways to keep your mind and body healthy.
How to keep your mind and body healthy
Move your body
Leading an active lifestyle is one of the best ways to improve your physical and mental health. When you exercise, your body produces endorphins which can instantly lift your mood and reduce stress. A recent study found that people feel calmer after just 20-30 minutes of aerobic exercise and the calming effect can last for several hours after exercise.
Regular exercise will also help you maintain your ideal weight, lower cholesterol and blood pressure, and keep your heart and kidneys healthy. Medical experts recommend that adults should do 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise a week or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity exercise a week.
Eat a healthy diet
Your diet plays a key role in your physical and mental health. A well-balanced diet will provide your body with all of the vitamins and minerals that it needs to stay healthy and function properly. Eating a healthy diet can also help you feel more energetic and alert. Whereas, unhealthy foods can leave you feeling fatigued and may even lead to stress and depression according to advice on Sutter Health.
An unhealthy diet can also harm essential organs like your heart and kidneys. For instance, diets high in salt will increase your blood pressure which may cause long-term damage to your heart and kidneys. Reduce your sodium intake by flavouring your meals with herbs and spices instead of salt.
Make sleep a priority
Sleep is essential for maintaining good physical and mental health. Your body repairs itself while you sleep and poor sleep quality can trigger or worsen existing systems of mental health conditions. Mental health experts at Mind state that people who have problems sleeping are more likely to feel anxious, depressed or suicidal.
You should aim to get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep every night. Here are some tips to get a better night’s sleep:
● Avoid consuming caffeine later in the day.
● Get into a consistent sleep routine. Go to bed and wake at the same time every day.
● Avoid looking at blue light-emitting devices (e.g. smartphones and iPads) for at least two hours before bed.
● Find ways to relax your mind and body before bed. For instance, soak in a warm bath, read a book, or listen to relaxing music.
● Create your ideal sleeping environment by installing blackout curtains and purchasing quality bedding.
Socialise with loved ones
Leading an active social life can have a powerful impact on your physical and mental health. Studies have shown that socialising can reduce stress, lower your blood pressure, boost your self-esteem and confidence, and improve your overall quality of life.
Get involved with as many social events as possible and make time to see your family and friends. You can improve your social life and meet new friends by joining clubs in your local area or chatting to people online through social media platforms.
There is no guarantee that poor mental health will affect your physical health, but several studies have shown that there is a link between physical and emotional wellbeing. Taking good care of your mental health will reduce your risk of developing physical health conditions and vice versa. Follow these tips to keep your mind and body healthy!
by Charlotte Murphy
Freelance Writer | Avid Walker | Chai Lattes 'Til I Die