These days, it seems we’re all juggling more than our share of responsibilities. That seems to go double for women. Many are holding down jobs, caring for loved ones, staying active in their communities, trying to maintain social lives, and seeking to maintain their health and wellbeing at the same time. For women especially, it’s important to remember that physical health and mental health are intricately connected.
Mental and Physical Health: The Connection
Because the brain is part of the body, mental and physical health should not be viewed as two separate issues but as one.
Your mental health plays a huge role in your general well-being. Being in a good mental state can keep you healthy and help prevent serious health conditions. A study found that positive psychological well-being can reduce the risks of heart attacks and strokes. On the other hand, poor mental health can lead to poor physical health or harmful behaviors. (WebMD)
Poor mental health can make physical issues worse, and poor physical care can exacerbate mental health challenges.
It’s important, therefore, to strike a balance that allows you to look after yourself both physically and mentally.
Balancing Mental and Physical Health
If paying attention both to your mental and physical health feels overwhelming, there’s good news. Balancing your mental and physical health at the same time may be simpler than you think.
According to experts, there’s actually a fair amount of crossover between the two:
These factors and many others have an impact on both the body and the mind.
Practical Steps to Improve Both Mental and Physical Health
When it comes to finding a balance between seeking mental and physical health, the good news is that these steps, while aimed to impact one or the other in targeted ways, will always have positive side effects that reach beyond the targeted result.
In other words, what’s good for your mental health often benefits you physically; and steps toward developing better physical health will benefit you mentally.
As you consider these steps, then, don’t lay too much weight on which step to start with. The important thing at this stage is simply to get the wheel of wellness spinning in a positive direction. Considering the symbiotic nature of mental and physical health, it matters less where you start. What matters is that you pick a step and get started.
Care for Your Physical Needs
Taking care of your physical health is about much more than simply exercising. It’s about making sure your body has everything it needs to function well. This approach will benefit you both physically and mentally.
- Stay physically active. This improves your mood, decreases symptoms of depression, builds up your body, and improves endurance.
- Get enough sleep. Sleep both affects your mood and gives you the energy you need to face the day’s challenges. A regular sleep schedule can help lessen symptoms of anxiety and depression while also giving your body the rest it needs to regulate, heal itself, and maintain a strong immune system.
- Eat well and drink enough water. Eating a well-balanced diet and taking in proper levels of hydration will keep both your body and your mind strong. It can also improve your gut health. Since poor gut health has been linked to both mental and physical issues, and certain mental health challenges can arise (or be exacerbated) due to vitamin deficiencies, it’s particularly important that your nutrition choices provide your body with everything it needs to function well.
By staying active, sleeping well, and eating and drinking wisely, you’re giving yourself a much stronger foundation for both physical and mental health.
Care for Your Emotional Needs
Our bodies are not machines, and we don’t just need physical maintenance. We also need emotional care.
Because our mental and emotional outlooks are often linked to our physical conditions, the steps we take to care for our bodies (exercise, diet, sleep) will also likely give our feelings a boost.
In addition, here are a few steps we can take to care of our emotional needs.
- Reduce stress levels. Long-term, ongoing stress can have catastrophic effects on the body and mind. Reducing and managing stress is critical for health and wellbeing.
- Invest in strengthening social bonds. Having a supportive community goes a long way toward helping us handle the ups and downs of life. People with strong support systems often experience better mental and physical health and tend to live longer than those who do not.
- Practice mindfulness. Mindfulness disrupts our tendency to go on “autopilot.” When we’re mindful about our habits, we’re more likely to break free of unhelpful patterns and make healthier choices moving forward.
Finding Your Balance
Depending on the specifics of your life, you may want to focus first on improving your mental outlook, leveraging the resulting benefits to begin working on physical fitness. Or you may choose to apply some of the physical steps first, enjoying the mental and emotional boost as a bonus.
Wherever you choose to begin, the important thing is that you get started.
Why This Matters
Mental anxiety, stress, and depression can have catastrophic effects on women’s health.
- Heart conditions
- Headaches and migraines
- Menstrual cycle disruption
- Increased levels of obesity
- Decreased sex drive
All these and more can result when women don’t take care of their mental health.
Unfortunately, failing to look after yourself physically results not just in physical deterioration but in mental health challenges as well.
Fortunately, this isn’t a matter of prioritizing one type of health over the other. With a bit of mindful attention, you can make strides in improving both your mental and physical wellbeing.
Contact the Women’s Clinic
As you seek to strike a balance between seeking mental and physical health, it’s also vital to remember that sometimes there are hidden factors affecting your health, ones that must be diagnosed by a professional.
If you’re concerned about long-term health, we encourage you to be proactive and seek care as soon as possible. If you have questions or concerns, or if you would like to talk about any other health needs, please feel free to contact us at The Women’s Clinic. Schedule an appointment today!