The Connection Between Mental and Physical Health

Loretta Jane

When you think about health and creating a healthy lifestyle, you probably think of your medical and physical health. You may equate health with managing or staving off medical conditions such as heart disease or diabetes. However, one of the most integral pieces of your overall wellbeing is your mental health. If you suffer from anxiety, depression, or other mental health conditions, you do not understand its impact on your overall health. Explore some of the ways your brain can take a toll on your physical health and vice versa.

Chronic Conditions and Mental Health

The connection between the brain and the body is known as far as function. The brain sends impulses down the spinal cord to every body system and is responsible for every inhale the lungs take and every beat the heart takes. Thus, when the brain is injured or suffering in some way, the ripple effect is felt in other parts of the body. It does not have to be a physical injury. Chemical imbalances often result in the development of mental health conditions. Sometimes these are caused by unknown reasons, but other times the chemicals may ebb and flow due to medication or situational circumstances. For example, people who deal with chronic medical conditions often also suffer from mental health issues. Whether the brain kicked off the physical condition or is lacking because of the medical issue is not clear. However, when a person fighting against chronic pain or a diminishment of their physical health improves their mental health, the physically sometimes inexplicably follows. Bringing balance to all aspects of the body can improve overall wellbeing and lifestyle.

Lifestyle Choices Impact the Brain

When the doctor says you need to improve your physical health, you may immediately start making adjustments to bring the goals set to fruition. Some of the things you can control include watching what you eat, getting sufficient sleep, and moving your body more. Improving these three elements of your physical life and sticking with them will also positively impact your mental health. Endorphins are the happiness chemical produced when you exercise. An uptick in this will result in a feeling of contentment and even joy. When it comes to your diet, making small changes such as having smaller portion sizes or incorporating power life into your daily life may make it easier to stick to the regime and result in greater vitamin consumption and weight loss. Both of these things will add to increased energy, vitality, and mental satisfaction with life.

Negative Impacts on the Body and Brain

Just as some lifestyle changes can impact the body and brain in a good way, some can degrade overall health and wellbeing. For instance, a sedentary lifestyle can not only contribute to weight gain and muscle atrophy over time. It can also lead to antisocial behavior and depression. Other situations that may lead to poor health include things such as:

  • Stress
  • Alcohol
  • Smoking
  • Poor gut health

Alcohol and smoking have adverse reactions to both the body and the brain. The chemical high the brain feels is temporary and often leads to depression. Stress, while sometimes unavoidable, can take a real toll on your brain. When the body is amped up and pumped full of adrenaline, the 'fight or flight' response, it can signal the brain to shut down non-essential functions and cause your gut health to become imbalanced. Along those same lines, if you do not balance the bacteria in your gut, it leads to poor digestion and illness.

When it comes to your overall health, you may want to ensure that you keep your mental and physical needs balanced. The people who are the healthiest maintain both their mental and physical health. Understanding how existing medical conditions may impact your mental state can help you start a conversation with your doctor about possible treatments. Likewise, when you are dealing with a mental health condition, it can take a real toll on other body systems. You will be at your best when your mental and physical needs are in balance. Finding the way to do this may take trial and error, but starting is the first step to making it happen.