You may not realize it, but your physical well-being significantly affects your mental health – and vice versa. There are many people who see the doctor because of physical symptoms who are then told to care for their mental health first. This also means that you can improve your physical being by caring for your mental health and improve your mental health with physical care. 

Explore the mind-body connection and learn how self-care can improve all aspects of your being.  

How Caring for Your Body Helps Your Mind

Your body impacts your mental state throughout the day. You can get grumpy before lunch or cranky after you stub your toe. However, the connection goes deeper than that. Here are a few examples:

  • Exercise reduces stress. Even taking small steps like going for a walk during your lunch break or stretching at your desk can reduce your stress levels and help you better cope with problems plaguing your mental state.

  • Eating well keeps your body going. Not only will eating healthy, complete meals keep your brain sharp and able to solve problems, it will also give you energy physically. Plus, a sore stomach can make you feel anxious or irritable, so don’t skip lunch or try to subside on a diet of breakroom snacks.   

  • Physical touch has many mental benefits. Simply holding your partner’s hand or receiving a hug can lower your blood pressure and release a variety of chemicals in the brain that tells you to relax and destress. During a stressful week, don’t overlook the time spent with loved ones. 

  • Sleep heals your body and your mind. Getting eight hours of sleep is important for protecting your immune system and keeping your body going, and it can also help your mind stay sharp and recover from the stress of a bad day.   

Simple bodily care can do wonders to improve your mental health. 

How Caring for Your Mind Helps Your Body

The correlation between mind and body goes both ways. People who experience physical distress can often find help with mental care. For example:

  • You are more motivated to eat well and exercise. When you are just trying to survive each day, you may be tempted to skip the gym and pick up fast food instead of dinner. However, those who take time to care for themselves mentally can also contribute to their health physically. 

  • You are less reliant on vices. You may turn to alcohol, coffee, food, or cigarettes when you are in a poor mental state, which will negatively impact your physical state. These problems can range from a hangover the next day to chronic obesity and lung cancer. 

  • Your body feels better. Many mental health stressors can trigger physical problems in your body. You are more likely to feel weak, dizzy, or have headaches that result from emotional distress. Many of these symptoms pass when patients take back control of their mental health.     

Taking a few minutes to meditate or care for yourself can impact all aspects of your life. 

Caring for the Mind and Body is Called Integrated Health

As you can see from the examples above, the mind and body are closely intertwined. By ignoring one element of your health, you can actually worsen other parts of your well-being. This concept is called integrated health, a practice more medical professionals are starting to take into account during treatment. Doctors treating physical ailments can identify potential mental health risks and guide the patient to make healthy decisions. 

Some practitioners, like the leaders at Sunshine Health, make integrated behavioral health a priority, so every patient is cared for mentally and physically.

Make sure to care for both your physical and mental health – your body will benefit either way.  

Cover photo from Unsplash