Our physical and mental health is crucial to our total well-being, and their relationship is often misunderstood. Physical and psychological health are connected. The World Health Organization (WHO) describes good health as a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being which goes beyond only the absence of illness.
Many people are unaware that mental health disorders have significant effects on our physical health because of certain false impressions regarding the relationship between physical and mental health. Infact, mental health disorders encompass a wide range of psychological concerns, from depression, anxiety, to childhood behavioral problems and neurological conditions, and therefore, go beyond its understood scope.
Moreover, keeping your psychological health in good shape can guard yourself against significant health issues. For example – Neglecting your mental health can eventually result in serious illnesses and health issues like:
High heart rate or blood pressure
Compromised immune system
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), anxiety and depression are linked to an increased risk of coronary heart disease and high blood pressure and therefore, the leading cause of untimely death. In a similar vein, excellent mental health can frequently be overlooked when managing diseases like cancer, diabetes, or psoriasis. For instance, people with psoriasis frequently endure severe physical and psychological symptoms that might affect their everyday lives and quality of life.
Therefore, your physical and mental well-being are connected to each other in more ways than you think.
How does Physical Health Affect Mental Health?
Good physical health can be understood as a condition of the body that is functioning optimally at all levels and free from any type of disease.
Physical health impacts mental health directly and indirectly. People who are physically healthy and remain active have been found to be more productive throughout the day, have a better sleep schedule, feel more relaxed, and think more positively about themselves and life in general.
Two important components of physical health are:
Nutrition – Good and well-balanced diet is essential for everyone. A host of vitamins and minerals is essential to physical health, as are the right amounts of protein and carbohydrates. Research has specifically shown that certain foods can help with a wide range of mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, insomnia, and even Alzheimer’s. That’s because exercising on a daily basis promotes all kinds of changes in the brain and body, including changes in neural activity, reduced inflammation in the body, and increase in brain activity patterns that promote feelings of calm and holistic well-being. It also releases several chemicals like endorphins, dopamine and serotonin into the body, which makes you feel less stressed and more in control.
Activity – It’s increasingly becoming more important to focus on exercise and physical activity. With the advent of technology and the widespread usage of screens in every area of life, children and adults are becoming more sedentary. Research recommends at least 30-60 minutes or more of physical activity each day, however, the majority of us don’t get anywhere near that. Technology is one of the biggest contributors when it comes to creating a sedentary lifestyle. Screen time of all types have negative effects on health, ranging from sleep difficulties to developing chronic health conditions. Whereas living a healthy lifestyle and staying physically active reduces your chance of chronic diseases and conditions, like type 2 diabetes, obesity, anxiety, depression, heart disease, cancer, and dementia.
Which one is more important?
The relationship between physical and mental health is a crucial but complex one. It is necessary to understand that psychological and physical health is required to live a happy and fulfilled life. It does not go without saying that Mental health can have a massive impact on physical well-being and vice versa. Mental Health not only includes our emotional and psychological but our social well-being as well. It affects how we feel, think and act in every situation we face in our everyday life. It also helps to handle stress, empathize and make healthy decisions. Mental health is invaluable at every phase of life, becoming the groundwork that drives our physical health.
Recent studies have shown that people with mental health problems are more likely to suffer from preventable physical health conditions. The connection between the mind and body can be so intricate that generally, our mental health can start causing physical symptoms as well. People with depression often complain about headaches, fatigue and digestive issues; similarly, anxiety can cause an upset stomach, insomnia, restlessness and difficulty concentrating.
In some ways, mental health can be more paramount to an individual’s overall well-being. It is unchallenging for people to talk about physical ailments but talking about psychological problems still stands to be a taboo in our society. Therefore, we must have more dialogues about this so that people with mental health issues are more likely to open up and receive the kind of help they need and deserve.
Importance of Professional Counseling: A friend or family member may listen to you, but they aren’t professionally, technically qualified or experienced to offer you professional advice. If you wish you can contact us at MindTribe to receive help from our team of expert psychologists.
MindTribe Founder Dr. Prerna Kohli, India’s eminent psychologist, established the company to leverage the strength of the online to make counseling affordable and accessible to everyone. MindTribe provides counseling, workshops, support groups, forums, and eLearning.
About the Author.
Dr. Prerna Kohli, is an eminent psychologist, a published author, a four-time gold medalist, an awardee by the President of India for her contributions to Mental Health, and the founder of MindTribe.in. You can learn more about her by clicking here www.drprernakohli.in
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of MindTribe.in, the Founders, or management team.
Acknowledgement: All images used are open source and from Unsplash.