How Mental Health Affects Physical Health
It is estimated that one in four adults experiences mental health problems in any given year, and one in ten children and adolescents (WHO, 2004). Mental health is defined as a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community (WHO, 2001).
Does mental health affect physical health?
The short answer is yes. Mental health and physical health are connected. It is normal to feel some stress in your life. Stress can come from work, family, finances, or other areas. While a little bit of stress may not be harmful, too much stress can take a toll on your physical health.
When you are stressed, your body goes into “fight or flight” mode. This means that your body releases hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones can increase your heart rate and blood pressure. They can also make it difficult to breathe, and they can make you feel anxious or irritable (American Psychological Association, 2018).
If you are constantly feeling stressed, it can lead to problems such as headaches, digestive issues, insomnia, and even heart disease. That’s why it’s important to find ways to manage your stress.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, people who have mental health conditions are more likely to have chronic medical illnesses. One example of how mental health can affect physical health is the increased risk for heart disease. People with anxiety disorders or depression are more likely to have heart attacks.
Mental illness can also make it more difficult to manage other chronic conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure. When someone is dealing with a mental health condition, they may not have the energy or motivation to take care of themselves physically. This can lead to weight gain, poor nutrition, and other physical health problems (NAMI, 2016).
It is important to remember that mental health is just as important as physical health. Both are essential for a person’s overall well-being.
Reducing Stress to Improve Your Physical Health
One way to reduce stress is to exercise regularly. Exercise can help to release endorphins, which are hormones that can boost your mood and help you to feel less stressed.
Another way to manage stress is to make sure that you are getting enough sleep. When you are well-rested, you are more likely to be able to deal with stressful situations in a calm and rational manner (National Sleep Foundation, 2018).
Finally, it is also important to eat a healthy diet. When you are properly nourished, your body is better equipped to handle stress. Eating lots of fruits and vegetables can help to improve your overall health and reduce stress levels.
There are a number of other coping mechanisms that can help to reduce stress. Some people find that relaxation techniques such as yoga or meditation can be helpful. Others may find relief in talking to a friend or family member about their stressors. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to managing stress, so it is important to experiment to find what works best for you.
If you are feeling overwhelmed by stress, it is important to seek professional help. A therapist can assist you in identifying the sources of your stress and developing a plan to manage it effectively.