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How Your Mental Health Affects Your Physical Health

When you think about getting healthier, you probably think about things like exercising more or eating a healthier diet. Being mentally is as important as being physically healthy. We tend to separate these into two separate categories, but the two are very interconnected. Your mental health directly affects your physical health, in more ways than one. Likewise, your physical health impacts your mental health. When your body isn’t healthy, you may experience more symptoms of depression or anxiety.

The mind-body connection

While scientists do not fully understand the link between chronic stress and physical health, research suggests that the strain from our body’s fight-or-flight response can lead to physical symptoms and pain. When we are threatened, our brain responds with fight-or-flight chemicals. This response can lead to physical symptoms in our bodies. Mental health conditions like depression have been linked to higher rates of cancer, heart disease, and respiratory conditions.

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Some surprising facts about trauma and pain

You might be surprised to know that childhood trauma can have long-lasting effects on our well-being. Childhood trauma is linked in numerous studies to physical pain. Almost 90 percent of women with fibromyalgia report having trauma in their childhood or adult life. Fifty-eight percent of migraine sufferers report having a history of abuse. We don’t fully understand the connection between trauma and pain, but researchers believe that living in a toxic environment damages the neural-connections in our brains. Essentially, trauma causes the brain to be wired differently and process pain signals differently. Healing from trauma is a necessary part of healing your body from the damage the trauma created.

Physical health conditions can lead to depression

Likewise, physical health conditions affect our mental health. When you don’t have the energy or live with a chronic illness, you are more likely to feel depressed. A chronic illness is a health condition that lasts for a year or more. Chronic illnesses are generally not curable and need to be managed by a doctor. Conditions like heart disease, arthritis, and diabetes have been linked to higher rates of depression. According to the Cleveland Clinic, approximately one-third of people who live with a chronic illness suffer from symptoms of depression.

How do you improve your mental and physical health?

Mental health and physical health go hand-in-hand. To achieve your health goals, you need to consider both your physical and mental health needs. Self-care should be part of your plan for healthy living.

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Self-care tips for improving your physical and mental health

Exercise regularly.

As little as 11 minutes of exercise a day can improve your health. Simple bodyweight training can improve your endurance and cardiorespiratory health. Even low-intensity exercise like walking can improve your health and reduce symptoms of depression.

Get enough sleep.

If you are not getting adequate sleep, your body is not getting the time it needs to repair itself. Sleep is an important function our bodies need to be healthy. Not only do we need sleep to maintain good physical health, but it’s also important for your mental health. People who don’t get enough sleep wake up tired, in a bad mood, and are less productive.

Eat a healthy diet.

You’ve heard the expression you are what you eat. How you eat affects your energy, your mental alertness, and your overall health. Fuel up on fruits, vegetables, and foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids to boost your mood!

Practice meditation.

Taking just a few minutes a day to rest your mind can improve your physical and mental health. Meditation has been shown to reduce stress, relieve anxiety, pain, and depression.

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