We have, as a society, done a lot of work to start destigmatising and start talking about mental health. However, we still need to put in a lot of work when it comes to unlearning what doesn’t work and learning what we now know. This includes getting rid of the distinction between mental health and physical health. Health is health and, as we’re going to show, they can all influence one another. Here are just some of the ways that your physical health impact your mental health.
You’re feeding your brain, as well
You are what you eat, as they say. However, your food doesn’t just fuel the rest of your body, it fuels your brain, as well. Taking a closer look at how a healthy diet can improve your overall wellbeing, we see how iron-rich foods not only improve energy levels but also stabilize your mood. Meanwhile, vitamin deficiencies have been shown to have strong links with experience of depression. Getting the right intake of energy throughout the day, including a healthy breakfast, also improves your concentration.
Stress, sleep, and pain
If you want any further proof of the mind-body connection, there are few more clear-cut examples than how stress is influenced by sleep, how pain is influenced by stress, and how sleep is influenced by pain. People who experience chronic pain often have difficulty sleeping, and insomnia can affect the body’s ability to mitigate cortisol, the stress hormone. Aside from creating the emotional sensation of stress, cortisol can also tense up the muscles in the body, which is known to increase the feeling of pain, especially in places like the lower back and the joints.
Dental health is mental health
Our physical health can also play a big role in our self-esteem. One of the ways this is most clear is in the realm of oral health. Options that treat visual defects and oral health issues, such as clear aligners for alignment problems, also have the added benefit of helping with our self-esteem. Tooth discolouration, missing teeth, and other dental health issues are known to have a profound effect on emotional health. As such, taking these aspects of our oral health seriously also improves our self-image and how we interact in the wider world.
The stress of chronic health issues
Some chronic health issues, such as heart disease, can be affected by our experience of stress. However, chronic health issues can also cause stress. Up to forty per cent of people who experience diabetes also admit to having stress related to their issue. This is, in part, due to the worries about living with conditions that can get progressively worse. However, the extra work involved in managing such conditions can also lead to additional stress. This can lead to a cyclical relationship between the condition and stress that has to be managed carefully.
The above examples are just a few ways that physical health directly influences your mental health, too. There are many more than this alone, but hopefully, it gives you some idea.
Featured image: Photo – CC0 License