When we talk about health, the first thought that comes to the mind is getting a fitter body. People will tell you to hit the gym, start running, eat clean, or take up any sport to get healthy. Few will talk about mental health, though. Imagine treating a broken arm like we often treat mental health issues. It would be impossible for you to continue performing daily tasks with the unbearable pain in your arm.
Of course, you would want to seek medical help to get your arm treated. Isn’t it about time you also started treating your mental health problems the same way you would your physical health issues?
The Stigma around Mental Health and the Importance of Awareness
Even though much has been done for mental health awareness in the past few decades, there is still a stigma associated with it. According to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, the majority of individuals still associate mental illness with unpredictable and dangerous behaviors.
This inaccurate portrayal of mental illness is also exaggerated in movies and TV shows, making it difficult for individuals to seek help and suffer in silence to avoid being judged by others. Fortunately, people have started talking about mental health and its importance, particularly on social media.
Mental health is an essential and integral component of your overall health and wellbeing. Being healthy includes not just your physical health and wellbeing, but also your social and mental wellness. It affects the way you act, feel, and think in your everyday life. The state of your mental wellness can also affect your physical health.
Several research studies indicate that mental wellness and physical wellness are closely associated:
⦁ Depression has been found to increase the chances of vascular and heart diseases.
⦁ Mental disorders can influence your behavior, for instance, sleeping patterns, physical activity, sensible eating, rational decision making, usage of tobacco and alcohol, etc.
⦁ If you are not mentally well, it can gradually affect other parts of your life, including financial situation, work problems, negative relationships, and more.
⦁ Poor mental health has been associated with a weakened immune system.
⦁ Chronic disorders, like heart diseases, cancer, and diabetes, increase the risk of anxiety disorder, depression, and more mental issues.
This link indicates that your mental health is just as important as your physical health, as both affect your overall wellness.
Lifestyle Choices That Influence both Mental and Physical Health
Following are some lifestyle choices that can have a significant influence on both your mental and physical wellness:
Physical activity is indeed one of the best ways of maintaining your physical health. However, it also has a positive impact on your mental wellness. It helps in reducing the stress levels and releasing endorphins, the feel-good chemical, throughout the body.
Merely 10 minutes of exercise or even walking has been found to improve a person’s mood, energy levels, and mental alertness.
Following a healthy diet also has an impact on both your mental and physical wellness. A balanced diet includes the right amount of minerals, vitamins, complex carbohydrates, essential fats, and proteins.
The foods you consume influence the prevention, management, and development of health conditions, such as hypertension, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases, and mental issues like Alzheimer's disease, depression, and anxiety.
Smoking negatively affects our physical and mental wellness. Many individuals believe that smoking relieves their mental stress and its symptoms. While it might appear to work, the effects are only temporary.
The nicotine in cigarettes affects the chemicals in your brain. Smoking releases dopamine, which is a chemical that enhances positive feelings. This chemical is often low in individuals battling with mental disorders, which is why they believe smoking helps them.
While nicotine can temporarily increase positive feelings, it will also switch off the natural mechanism of your brain that creates this chemical. Hence, the addiction. You may feel the need to smoke more and more to experience that positive sensation.
The more you smoke, the more you put both your mental and physical health at risk.
When the Going Gets Tough
Making small changes in your lifestyle can have a positive impact on your overall wellness. However, if you are struggling to maintain your mental health, you must seek professional counseling. Moreover, the following tips will help you in managing and improving your mental wellness:
Establishing a Treatment Plan – A specialist will help you in creating the right plan that will improve your mental and physical health. After performing an initial evaluation, your therapist might also prescribe medications depending on your condition.
Attaining a Second Opinion – Often, certain specialists face issues in diagnosing a mental or psychological condition. Some symptoms might be side effects of other medical conditions or the medications you are already taking. Therefore, it is recommended to get a second opinion before you start taking any new medications.
Standing your Ground – While getting mental treatment, you might hear many people trying to tell you that treatment is useless, judge you for seeking mental help, or ask you to pray more, etc. Ignore such comments and advice; it is important to do things that are helping your mental state of mind. Never stop seeking treatment because you fear being judged or ridiculed. Keep in mind, your mental health is important, and seeking help for mental disorders is the same as seeking help for a broken arm.
Even if you are not facing severe mental issues, prolonged anxiety, depression, and worry can result in negative consequences for your health. Make sure to make your health a priority and make decisions that will prove beneficial for your mental and physical health.
Limit the intake of alcohol and smoking, try to be more active, eat clean, practice mindful meditation, and do things you love. These are some of the most effective ways of improving your overall wellness. Your mental and physical health go hand-in-hand, don’t hesitate to ask for help when needed. A balanced mind and body connection is key to good health.