Dishaa Desai is a Psychologist and also an Outreach Associate with Mpower – The Centre. In this piece Dishaa talks about the correlation between physical and mental health and how one affects the other.
“Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”. – W.H.O
Our physical and mental health are not separate from each other. What affects on affects the other. Pain in one part of your body can affect attention and concentration, while a bad mood can affect appetite, sleep and even energy levels. The intricate link between mind and body is why we need to care for our bodies if we want to care for our mental health.
It has been found that chronic physical conditions can cause mental health issues like depression. In her research on the link between diabetes, mental health and physical exercise (Diabetes, 2009), Dr Mary de Groot of Indiana University, found that patients who exercised and received cognitive behavioural therapy showed significant improvements in blood sugar levels and mood.
3 Ways To Safeguard Physical And Mental Health
Exercise cause the release of certain neurotransmitters including serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine, and endorphins. These neurotransmitters are called the happy hormones because they improve mood and give you a sense of wellbeing. The great feeling we get after exercising is what is also called Runners High and is because of the chemicals released in the brain.
To make exercise a sustainable habit it helps to choose something that you enjoy doing. Whether it’s running, cycling, or even aerobics or dancing, any type of physical activity can help to improve mood. Anytime during the day if you start to feel low it helps to step outside and take a walk or even just put on your favourite music and dance.
Food plays a crucial role in both physical and mental health. Not only does food nourish our bodies but it also provides the raw materials the body needs to synthesise our happy hormones. Nutrition deficiencies have been linked to mood disorders which is why it is important to eat nutrient-dense foods that include all essential macro and micro-nutrients.
It is also important to enjoy the process of eating, so it helps to eat foods that you enjoy. If the food you like it not necessarily healthy, then save them for a cheat day when you can indulge your cravings without going overboard. On a daily basis make sure to eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables and get sufficient protein, carbohydrates and fats.
Do you know that the body and mind are extremely busy while we sleep? While the body takes on the task of repairing damaged tissue and getting rid of toxins, the mind is also doing housekeeping. The brain also goes through a detox process and nerve repair also takes place. Without adequate sleep we are denying our bodies the chance to repair and rejuvenate. An average of eight hours of sleep has been found to be ideal for adults.
There is no denying the correlation between physical and mental health. If you want to be happier and mentally well-balanced then investing in your physical health is a must. Get out of your chair every now and then and include some movement into your day, your mind will thank you for it.