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In what positive / negative ways does your physical and mental health affect each other?

Mental and physical health are deeply connected. There are many associations between mental health and physical conditions that impact people’s quality of life. Studies on how they are fundamentally linked have been growing, and show that an improvement or decline in one can lead to an improvement or decline in the other.

So how exactly does one influence the other? As people, we are responsible for our own health, in the mind and in the body. It’s important to understand the relationship between mental health and physical health so that you can make improvements to both cohesively. Let’s talk about the positive and negative effects they can have on each other.

How Does Physical Health Affect Mental Health?

We owe it to ourselves to take care of our physical fitness. Being physically strong and capable means better health and perhaps a longer life. And because physical and mental health is inextricably related, it’s even more important to take care of them. When you do not take care of your physical health, it can lead to negative effects.

One really positive way your physical health can affect your mental health is in your moods and tension. Being consistently active can level out our moods and reduce stress. Stress is a common denominator among many Americans, so being physically healthy can help with what seems to be inevitable. Physical activity has also proved to increase brain cognitive function, reduce the risk of depression, and improve sleep and overall quality of life. All of which are extremely connected to your overall mental health.

With that being said, it is safe to conclude that physical health problems significantly increase the risk of developing mental health problems. People with chronic physical conditions are at risk of developing poor mental health. Not being able to move, go outside, or eat the right nutrients can harm us mentally. It’s important we include key aspects of prevention in our daily routines like being physically active daily and eating a healthy diet.

How Does Mental Health Affect Physical Health?

Of course, if your physical health has a significant impact on your mental health, then it would be true the other way around. Mental health conditions like depression and stress can cause massive implications on your physical capabilities like lack of exercise and poor diet. A number of studies have found that mental illness can accelerate biological aging, manifesting an increased rate of heart disease, age-related diseases, and even lead to a shorter lifespan. This is just an overview of the negative impacts your mental health can have on your physical health.

Studies have found positive psychological attributes are associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and mortality. Naturally, if you are in a good state of mind, you are more likely to be social, active, and respond better to a more healthy way of living. Without negative mental health conditions such as chronic stress, anxiety, or anger, your body does not produce biological responses such as increased blood pressure, digestive complaints, and inflammation. Your mind and body are connected, so such mental strains can cause even more physical strains.

Maintaining Good Mental and Physical Health

Balancing the scales of mental and physical health is only difficult if you allow it to be. Make time for small habits like getting a good night's rest, regular exercise, and mental healthcare. Knowing how to care for the connection between your mind and body in a bi-directional function is key to maintaining an overall healthy life.

Source: Tony Hicks (2021) How Improving Your Mental Health Will Help Your Overall Physical Health

Source: Rachael Green (2023) The Connection Between Mental Health and Physical Health

Source: Paul Reed (2021) Physical Activity is Good for the Mind and the Body

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