How Does Mental Health Affect Physical Health?
Although mental health and physical health are essential components of our overall health, their relationship is often misunderstood. Psychological and physical health are closely intertwined. According to the World Health Organization, health is much more than the absence of disease—it’s a state of physical, mental, and social well-being.
With misconceptions surrounding physical and mental well-being, many people fail to realize that mental illnesses directly impact physical health. Mental illness is more than just feeling sad or anxious—it covers a wide range of psychological problems, ranging from mood disorders to behavioral issues.
Conversely, maintaining good psychological health can keep you healthy and prevent serious health problems. From leading a healthy lifestyle to preventing chronic disease, here’s everything you need to know about different types of health.
How does mental health influence physical health?
Poor mental health can affect your physical health in various ways. Poor psychological health can disrupt your ability to think clearly, make healthy decisions, and fight off chronic diseases. Over time, neglecting your mental well-being can lead to severe health conditions and health problems such as:
- High blood pressure and/or heart rate
- Heart disease
- Gastrointestinal issues
- Weakened immune system
- Premature death
One of the most common mental illnesses, depression, can cause fatigue, sleeping problems, and unexplainable aches and pains due to issues in the signaling pathways in the brain. According to the United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC), depression and anxiety are associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease and heightened blood pressure.
On the same note, maintaining good mental health can often be overlooked when treating health conditions such as cancer, diabetes, or psoriasis. Individuals with psoriasis, for example, often experience intense physical and psychological effects, which can impact daily activities and quality of life.
How To Create a Healthy Body and Mind
Although therapy is the best way to take care of your mind, managing your psychological health is only one component of your overall health. Here are some ways to work toward mental and physical wellness.
- Prioritize regular physical activity. Regular exercise has wide-ranging health benefits—from increasing your endorphin levels to improving the health of your joints. If you have a hectic schedule, incorporate physical activity into your life by biking to work or carving out time for a brisk walk. If cardio isn’t for you, strength training is a great way to build muscle strength and will also aid in maintaining good mental well-being.
- Get enough sleep. It’s easier to cope with difficult situations when your body feels good. One good way to achieve restful sleep is by avoiding your phone an hour before bed. According to the CDC, young adults need 8–10 hours of sleep, while older adults need at least seven hours of sleep every night.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Maintaining a healthy weight not only improves your quality of life, but it helps lower your risk of a wide range of diseases, including heart disease, blood pressure problems, and high cholesterol. Finding the right balance between physical fitness and health-conscious foods can help you achieve and maintain a healthy weight.
- Practice mindfulness. Mindfulness can be as simple as clearing your mind in a dark room or following a guided meditation app. According to PubMed, mindfulness practices and spirituality can help improve physical and psychological symptoms, leading to better mental and physical health.
- Eat a balanced diet. Diets with excessive processed, high-calorie foods are linked to infirmity and psychological issues such as depression and anxiety. For good physical health, avoid skipping meals and incorporate fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats into your diet. If you’re struggling to eat a balanced diet, talk to your doctor about taking vitamins.
Reach out for help if you need it.
While taking steps toward living a healthy lifestyle can help improve your mental and physical health, some people might need professional help to manage their psychological health—and that’s completely normal. You can now access mental health treatment from the comfort of your own home.
Positive self-talk is key to good health, and therapy can help you identify problematic thoughts, behaviors, and feelings and replace them with more positive ones. Combined with positive lifestyle choices, therapy can help you achieve good health inside and out.
To find a therapist, reach out to a mental health provider through the Therapy Group of NYC. We know that starting therapy can feel intimidating, and we can help guide your journey with personalized, data-driven treatment.
Whether you’re living with a mental illness or experiencing stress, one of our licensed therapists will help you navigate your psychological health and define what wellness looks like in your life.