There is an undeniably strong association between your mental and physical health. What goes around in your mind reflects in the spring in your steps. Both passive and active steps can mirror your mood. Although physical and mental health are poles apart, yet they share a cause and effect relationship.
Poor physical health multiplies the risk of developing mental ill-being or vice versa. This is the exact explanation behind depression aggravating the death risk by 67% from heart diseases. On the flip side, physical health conditions reciprocate with effects on your mental wellbeing. For instance, severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease causes mild depression in around 22% of its patients.
Therefore, mental and physical health cannot be compartmentalized separately. They run parallel and make certain you feel healthy and happy. The Harris Poll Survey of American Happiness 2017 revealed that only 33% of Americans considered themselves happy. This demonstrates an empty blank in our incomplete efforts of physical and mental wellbeing.
Here are five tips to ensure that both your mind and body are satisfied simultaneously:
- Eat well
When the hunger pangs strike, your tummy can illicit grumpy responses from your brain, showing a strong mind-body connection. Science explains that glucose levels drop as time passes to your last meal and nutrient circulation in the bloodstream declines. The brain perceives this as a threatening situation, which makes you ‘hangry’.
In addition to proper meal times, healthy eating also plays a key role in mind-body connectivity. Psychiatrist Drew Ramsey, MD, an assistant clinical professor at Columbia University, confirms this claim. He elucidates, “But diet is potentially the most powerful intervention we have. By helping people shape their diets, we can improve their mental health and decrease their risk of psychiatric disorders.”
Moreover, in a wellbeing comparison between the western diet and traditional diets, research holds traditional diet plans as the winner. It shows that conventional diets like Japanese and Mediterranean diets lower the risk of developing depression by 25-35%. Furthermore, a study also indicates that high trans fat content in your food is analogous to increased irritability and aggression.
- Move your muscles
You might have always just connected the dots between exercise and improved physical fitness. But that’s not how limited the healthful scope of exercise is. Research estimates that cardiovascular events can come down by 30-40% if people moved their muscles as per recommended exercise markers.
Not only do you promote good cardiovascular health with regular activity but you also boost the brain’s health. A study shows that exercise improves your learning and verbal memory by enhancing the hippocampus’s size. Research also unveils that exercise helps alleviate the depressive symptoms by releasing endorphins that make you feel good.
Professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, Richard Maddock, explains this further, “Major depressive disorder is often characterized by depleted glutamate and GABA, which return to normal when mental health is restored. Our study shows that exercise activates the metabolic pathway that replenishes these neurotransmitters.” Therefore, exercise is another connective bridge to pursue for your health wellbeing.
- Mindfulness meditation
Living in the moment or mindfulness of your vicinity is another essential tool to include in your mind-body wellness arsenal. Mindfulness works to improve both your physical and mental well-being by encouraging you to be more accepting of yourself. In the opposite case, we tend to be harsh on ourselves, pushing to the limits to achieve unrealistic goals. This welcomes stress and fatigue in the picture.
Stress-related ailments account for 75-90% of visits to the doctors. Mindfulness serves as a counteragent to stress-related physical problems by putting forth the physical needs of the body. Research shows that it is also helpful in combatting inflammation and subsequent diseases. This effort hinges on the brain’s influence over the immune system.
A 2016 study also found that the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program was linked to reduced emotional eating behavior. On a specific mental note, studies outline that the improved focus promoted by mindfulness increases brain connectivity. Mindfulness also plays a critical role in keeping mental health disorders such as anxiety, and depression at bay.
- Maintain a sleep schedule
According to a Gallup survey, less than 40% of the population fetch the recommended hours of sleep. You might assume that a restless night only impacts your next day with all the grogginess and irritability. But the health effects of sleeplessness are far-reaching, which is why you need to ensure that you sleep well.
Sleep deprivation correlates with weakened immunity, increased risk of diabetes, and high blood pressure. Studies also hold lack of sleep as an important factor responsible for weight gain. Sleeplessness also increases the risk of developing some psychiatric disorders.
Dr. Lawrence Epstein, Medical Director of Sleep Health Centers and an instructor at Harvard Medical School, explains, “People who have problems with sleep are at increased risk for developing emotional disorders, depression, and anxiety.”
- Practice yoga
You must have already heard of yoga as the ancient master that forges and strengthens the mind-body link. Relaxation Response, a yoga mantra, helps to quieten your brain. Studies show that this is beneficial for numerous physiological responses like reduced blood pressure, heart rate, declined stress hormones, and more. These, in turn, assist in improving health conditions such as infertility, migraines, and high blood pressure.
Yoga also corresponds with stress relief, improved concentration, sharpened focus, along with declining depressive symptoms and sleep disorders. Yoga contributes to your physical wellbeing by boosting flexibility, muscle strength, and cardiovascular health. It also optimizes metabolic functioning. Yoga is also an effective solution for osteoarthritis. A study reveals that 112 minutes of weekly yoga helps to reduce pain and stiffness by 88% and 35% respectively.
Despite the numerous mental and physical advantages, only 8.7% of U.S. adults practice yoga. 44.4% of adults are ‘aspirational yogis’ who aspire to practice yoga. It looks like it’s high time that the aspirational yogis got into action.
In a nutshell, it is wise to acknowledge the bond between your mental and physical health. In doing so, feed it with mindfulness, proper sleep, healthy eating, yoga, and exercise. As the body-mind connection toughens, you’d be able to boost your overall health.