Connecting Our Physical Health with Our Mental Health

Connecting Our Physical Health with Our Mental Health

Did you know our body and our mind are linked when it comes to taking care of mental health?  Stress, poor diet, lack of exercise, and sleep deprivation can all play a hand in the status of our mental health.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), part of the National Institute of Health (NIH), stress can affect our health. It is important to pay attention to how we deal with minor and major stress events so that we know when to seek help. Routine stress can be related to the pressures of work, school, family and other daily responsibilities. It can also be brought about by a sudden negative change, such as losing a job, divorce, or illness. Traumatic stress can be experienced in an event like a major accident, war, assault, or a natural disaster. The effects of stress can build up over time. It is important to recognize the signs of our body’s response to stress, such as difficulty sleeping, increased alcohol and other substance use, being easily angered, feeling depressed, and having low energy. If these occur, it may be necessary to talk to a doctor or health care provider.

Getting regular exercise can help with stress management. Just 30 minutes per day of walking can help boost your mood and reduce stress. NIMH also reports that exercise is known to be a possible antidepressant and it also increases adult neurogenesis – the genesis of new neurons in the brain. In addition to exercise, relaxing activities like meditation, yoga, tai chi, or other gentle exercises can help with stress reduction.

Diet is another factor that can affect our mental health. According to Mental Health America, eating more fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, fish, olive oil, and other healthy foods, while eating less unhealthy junk and processed foods, can be an effective treatment strategy for depression. The organization also reports that there is also a strong relationship between having mental health problems and having gastrointestinal symptoms like heartburn, indigestion, acid reflux, bloating, pain, constipation, and/or diarrhea. Inflammation in the gut can affect the brain and cause symptoms that look like Parkinson’s disease, autism, anxiety and depression.

Finally, physical and emotional health depend so much on how rested we are. Sleep is fundamental to a healthy mind and body – getting a good night’s sleep can make a huge difference in your overall health.

For further information, visit nimh.gov or mentalhealthamerica.net.

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