What affect does your physical health have on your mental health, and vice versa? Let's take a deep dive into your holistic wellbeing and discuss.
The connection between physical and mental wellbeing 💚
According to the Mental Health Foundation, your mental health directly impacts your physical health.
Although this can happen in a positive way too, research has found that individuals with a mental health problem are at an increased risk of developing a physical health problem, and vice versa.
This is because the mind and body are not separate, they work together and influence each other. Let’s take a look at examples of how physical and mental aspects of the body affect each other, and what we can do to help.
Notice how your body reacts when your mental health is a certain way:
Feeling anxious = upset stomach
Low mood = tiredness and fatigue
Physical conditions can lead to low self-esteem, social isolation and feelings of tiredness, anxiety and frustration.
The Gut-Brain Connection
Many researchers refer to the gut as our 'second brain' because of the huge impact gut health has on brain function and mental health. Did you know that 95% of serotonin is made in the gut? An unhealthy gut will struggle to produce enough serotonin to keep the brain happy.
Healthy gut = Good levels of serotonin = Happy brain 💚
A deep dive into stress 🧐
Stress is how we feel when we are put under pressure, and it usually happens in situations where we feel we have little control. Everybody reacts to stress differently. Sometimes small amounts of stress can be beneficial, as they help us feel more energised and complete tasks on our to-do lists.
However, intense or long-lasting levels of stress can affect our physical and mental health. But how?
Physical: Headaches, muscle pains, weaker immune system, skin conditions such as acne and psoriasis, libido and more.
Mental: Anxiety, depression, Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) - Livi (2021), Mind (2022) & NHS (2023)
What can you do to help?
Food affects not only the parts of the body we can see, but also our hormones, development and overall mood. Eating nutrient-rich foods can improve overall wellbeing and contribute to the prevention of conditions such as dementia (SCIE, 2020)
Taking part in daily exercise helps to strengthen bones and muscles, improve heart health and can reduce the risk of developing major illnesses such as cancer (NHS, 2023). It also releases dopamine, which improves mood, energy levels and increases mental alertness (Mental Health Foundation, 2023). The exercise you choose doesn’t have to be strenuous, even getting outside for a walk or taking some time to stretch has huge benefits on your overall wellbeing.