Oftentimes, when we think of being healthy, we only focus on our body. In reality, we should be thinking of our mental health just as much as our physical well-being. The two are actually linked and are contingent upon one another.
If you’re not taking care of your mental health, then your physical health may suffer. In the same way, not caring for your body properly may result in some mental negativity.
WHAT IS MENTAL HEALTH?
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, mental health “includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being.” It affects all aspects of our lives and is important in every stage of life.
If you ever feel like you’re struggling with your mental health, don’t worry. You are not alone! Mental health issues are very common, and help is available. Some early warning signs of a mental health problem include:
- Eating or sleeping too much or too little
- Having low or no energy
- Pulling away from people and usual activities
- Inability to perform daily tasks
- Feeling helpless, hopeless, or numb
- Thinking of harming yourself or others
WHAT IS PHYSICAL HEALTH?
Physical health involves several components including:
- Activity, which includes one’s strength, flexibility, and endurance
- Nutrition, or one’s nutrient intake, fluid intake, and healthy digestion
- Substance use, including alcohol and drugs
- Medical self-care, which involves addressing minor injuries and seeking emergency care as necessary
- Sleep, which includes rest, relaxation, and high-quality sleep
Basically, the definition of physical health has evolved over time with modern medical innovations. Today, being physically healthy can range from being free of illness to one’s fitness level.
HOW ARE THE TWO LINKED?
The mind and body influence each other. There are several mental health conditions that directly and indirectly affect your physical health.
Depression is the most common mental disorder in the U.S. Not only does it affect your mood, but it also suppresses T cell responses to viruses and bacteria, directly affecting your immune system and making it easier to get sick. Research also shows that stress within your body can be a driving cause of depression, suggesting an indirect link.
Additionally, mental illness and fatigue are linked, and anger, anxiety, and heart health are linked. Many health problems are not just physical or mental — they can actually be both.
IMPROVING YOUR PHYSICAL AND MENTAL HEALTH
To protect or improve your physical and mental health, you can incorporate healthy habits into your everyday life. Here are some ways you can work on your mental health:
- Connecting with others
- Self-care activities, like going outside or attending a cooking class
- Getting enough sleep
- Seeking professional help if necessary
Some ways to improve your physical health include:
- Choosing healthy food choices
- Stretching and exercising, even mildly
- Limiting screen time
- Seeking treatment for medical issues
No matter what stage of life you’re in, protecting your mental and physical health is so important to your overall well-being. If you’re seeking help to improve your mental health, there are lots of resources available, and you are not alone.
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How Mental Health and Physical Health Are Linked | Hillside (hside.org)
What Is Mental Health? | MentalHealth.gov
What Is Physical Health? – Definition, Components & Examples – Video & Lesson Transcript | Study.com