“You’re only as old as you feel!” That old saying may sound a little corny, but there’s more truth than you might think. Understanding the connection between mental and physical health can show you why.
The Connection Between Mental and Physical Health
Did you know that people who “feel” younger than their age often have better physical health than those that don’t? It may sound unbelievable, but research demonstrates that simply thinking of yourself as younger than you are is correlated with lower risks for age-related memory problems, health issues, and other problems that happen in your golden years. Maintaining a youthful frame of mind is truly valuable!
This isn’t the only way your physical and mental health are related, however. What is the connection between mental and physical health, and how can it keep you feeling your best?
Mental Health and Physical Health Are Two Sides of the Same Coin
Mental and physical health are connected by many processes within our bodies, and they influence each other in all kinds of ways. So even though we tend to think of and treat mental and physical health as two separate things, looking at them holistically is the best way to improve your overall health.
Mental health conditions may primarily affect your mood and cognitive functions, but they also have physical side effects that can seriously impede your lifestyle. For example, mental health conditions like anxiety are linked to physical problems like insomnia, which can worsen physical and mental health problems. Mental health issues can also make it challenging to take care of yourself and can even lead to damaging behaviors like binge drinking. If you want to keep your body in good shape, focusing on mental health is a great way to make sure you stay on track.
Likewise, physical health conditions may primarily be known via aches and pains, but those symptoms can affect your state of mind due to the stress they cause. Depression and other mental health issues have been linked to many chronic diseases common to senior populations, like diabetes. About one-third of all people diagnosed with a health condition will experience mental health issues. Avoiding physical health issues and taking good care of your body is a great way to prevent the mental strain caused by chronic poor health.
How Can I Improve My Mental and Physical Health?
The good news about the connection between mental and physical health is that improving one will naturally help you improve the other. To make sure your brain and body are in good shape, take a holistic look at your overall health:
- Are you getting enough exercise? Exercise keeps your body healthy, but it can also improve your mood. Even ten minutes a day can have huge benefits.
- Are you cultivating social connections? Getting out there and making friends can improve your physical and mental health in various important ways.
- Are you sleeping enough? An adult should sleep seven to nine hours a night for optimum health.
- Are you working to maintain a positive frame of mind? Spending time on stress management and mindfulness can help you build your mental resilience.
- Are you eating enough? A balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, and fiber can improve your gut health and state of mind.
Now that you understand the connection between mental and physical health, you can start to improve both. How can you begin living a healthier life today?
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