Do you ever wonder how your physical well-being impacts your mental well-being and vice versa? Throughout this blog post, we’ll explore the undeniable connection between physical health and mental health, outlining 7 distinct ways.

In the 17th century, mental well-being was not emphasised like physical well-being was, as the mind and body were seen as separate entities. The importance of emotional health has resurfaced recently, and the mind-body connection has been proven to be an important component of an individual’s overall health and wellbeing.

As stated by the World Health Organization (WHO), ‘health is not just an absence of disease or infirmity, but a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being.’ Consider how your own mind-body connection either negatively impacts your life or enhances your well-being while reading this blog.

1. Nutrition

Taking food into our bodies is a critical component of our mind-body connection. Dietitians of Canada state that “the food we eat is related to our mood, behaviour, and cognition.”. Poor or inadequate diets can lead to long-term effects on both physical and mental health.

Here are some more facts linking nutrition to mental health:

Mental health diagnoses including depression may be on the rise due to an increase in processed food consumption.

Anxiety and depression have been linked to food insecurity or scarcity.

Research has shown that deficiencies in micronutrients and Omega 3 fatty acids can increase the risk of depression; low consumption of fish, fruits, and vegetables can elevate depression risk; proper nutrition can mitigate depression symptoms; further research is needed to determine if proper nutrition can prevent suicidal ideation from crossing the finish line.

You can take natural supplements for immunity support, detoxification, stress relief, nutrient support, and the ability to sleep better.

Tip: Talk to a nutritionist about how your dietary habits are affecting your mental well-being. Create a nutritional plan that fits your budget and increases your overall health.

2. Hydration

A person’s everyday life requires water, and it is well known that hydration is essential to life. Society is less aware of the link between hydration and mental health. “Even mild dehydration can alter a person’s mood, energy level, and ability to think clearly” according to the University of Connecticut’s Human Performance Laboratory. When you don’t drink enough water throughout the day, how do you feel?

A few more facts about hydration and mental health:

Concentration, short-term memory, and alertness can be negatively affected by dehydration.

Researchers found that mild dehydration elevated subjective mood scores, such as fatigue, confusion, anger, and vigour, related to dehydration.

The elderly may also experience delirium (mental confusion) as a result of dehydration.

Tip: Make sure to drink eight glasses of water each day – if you find water boring, try other liquids like tea, coffee, and juice. Try to eat water rich foods such as cucumber or lettuce. Just because you’re not active doesn’t mean you shouldn’t drink water.

3. Exercise

It has been found that physical activity can reduce symptoms of depression, increase self-esteem and resilience, and more. The helpguide.org website states that physical activity “increases brain dopamine levels, norepinephrine levels, and serotonin levels” that can improve mental well-being and reduce mental health disorders symptoms. It is possible to promote mental wellness with just a little bit of exercise.

Let’s look at some more facts:

30 minutes of exercise five days a week can reduce symptoms of depression; exercising can treat eating disorders more effectively than other therapies.

The natural release of endorphins during exercise can relieve anxiety symptoms such as stress and tension.

Exercise has been shown to improve concentration, memory, and mood in people with ADHD.

Tip: Make physical activity a part of your daily routine to improve your mental health – stick with something you enjoy or try something new.

4. Sleep

It’s often a matter of getting enough sleep that can make the difference between a productive and stress-free day or a day of fatigue and a lack of energy. Lack of sleep can also have serious implications for a person’s mental health. According to Harvard Health, sleep disruption is associated with negative thinking and emotional vulnerability, while sleep quality plays a critical role in fostering mental and emotional resilience.

More facts:

Psychiatric disorders such as depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, and ADHD have been linked to sleep disorders.

Over 70 sleep disorders exist, but insomnia is the most common.

Sleep is vital to maintaining emotional balance; lack of sleep can result in irritability, changes in mood, increased anger outbursts, or bouts of crying.

Mental health issues, including PTSD, have been linked to chronic sleep problems. Increasing stress and mental health issues are linked to sleeplessness (especially chronic sleeplessness).

Tip: Discover how essential oils can help you sleep.

5. Substance Use

According to helpguide.org “substance abuse and mental health disorders like depression and anxiety are closely linked, one does not directly cause the other”. Alcohol, illicit drugs, medication, and tobacco use can all be considered substance abuse. In addition to affecting one’s physical and mental health, these substances can also exacerbate mental health concerns. Mental health disorders or substance abuse problems can often be stigmatized, and seeking help for both can be even more difficult. A person’s overall well-being can be significantly enhanced by having support for these concerns.

More information:

There is a common use of alcohol or drugs to treat the symptoms of depression or anxiety; they can increase underlying risks for mental disorders; they can exacerbate mental health problems.

Always consult your doctor before altering a medication dosage for physical or mental concerns – medications can have side effects, but they can also relieve many ailments or emotional problems.

As a coping mechanism, smoking can relieve some of the symptoms of mental health diagnoses, but they are harmful to a person’s health in the long run.

Tip: Getting more support from your doctor or an addiction service can be helpful if you or someone you know is concerned about substance abuse or addiction.

6. Illness

There can be many emotions that accompany a chronic or short-term illness diagnosis, such as shock, regret, anger, and most commonly, sadness. Depression can cause prolonged feelings of sadness, which can profoundly affect an individual’s life.

Mental health disorders may also be triggered or exacerbated by anxiety or stress related to illness.

More facts about the connection between illness & mental health:

A chronic health condition increases the risk of depression.

Physical and emotional symptoms can be negatively affected by the stigma associated with chronic illnesses such as pain.

Managed illnesses, such as pain, can improve an individual’s well-being and reduce symptoms of mental illness.

Tip: A health professional can provide you with more information on how to treat depression and anxiety. Mental health co-morbidity may also be alleviated with support (such as support groups, individual counselling, and health and wellness coaching) for chronic illnesses.

7. Social Well-being

Relationships with friends, family, co-workers, classmates, and others in one’s life directly affect an individual’s emotional and mental well-being. Mental health conditions, such as depression, may be exacerbated by poor social connections or poor social well-being.

Positive mental health was associated with lower levels of loneliness and higher levels of social support; lower levels of social well-being were the biggest predictor of negative mental health according to a study.

A person’s mental well-being can also be influenced by how connected they feel to services, government, or society in general.

Tip: Think about your current social well-being.. how would you rate it? How does it affect your mental health & well-being? Are there any changes you can make to improve your social well-being in your immediate social network (friends, family, etc) and in your broader social network (society, community, etc)?