Physical and mental health oftentimes go hand-in-hand, and are essential for your overall health and wellbeing. Both benefit from regular maintenance and can significantly affect one another. There are several factors that can influence your physical and mental health including diet and nutrition, fitness and exercise, energy and sleep, and stress management. Our team is dedicated to bolstering your health and wellness, and to do so, we have broken down the facts for you.

1) Physical and Mental Health

When you think of your health, what comes to mind? Your body, right? When the topic of health comes to light, people naturally think about their physical health. In today’s world, people tend to prioritize physical health appointments, exercise and working out, diets, and keeping their bodies physically fit and functional. However, focusing on mental health is just as important. We’ve all heard the phrase, “a health body is a healthy mind”, and it’s essential that people work to bolster their mental and spiritual health in addition to their physical health. Therefore, finding the right balance between the body and the mind will help people live overall happier and healthier lives.

2) Diet and Exercise

Although diet and exercise play a major role in one’s physical health, studies have shown that those factors have a strong influence on how well we feel and how well we are able to function mentally and emotionally as well. Several of the symptoms that correlate with poor mental health such as fatigue, lack of energy, poor concentration, anxiety, and poor body image, can significantly benefit from a healthy diet and exercise.

Diet and exercise are also extremely important when it comes to preventing and managing chronic diseases such as diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease, and many more. Maintaining your physical health can help avoid or mitigate your risk of physical illness, as well as support resiliency in your mental health. In contrast, poor physical health can account for increased vulnerability for mental illness like depression.

3) Diet and Nutrition

Time and time again, we have seen the positive impact that a nutritious diet has on people’s physical and mental health. Proper nutrition helps the body maintain a healthy weight, manage stress, and fuel energy that is needed for a healthy lifestyle.

Additionally, the brain needs the right nutrients to function properly, and many brain functions such as regulating hormones, sleeping, and concentrating can affect people’s mental state. Whether you are aware of them or not, all activities of the brain involve a series of chemical processes and impulses. The raw materials for those processes and impulses are derived from nutrients including proteins, complex carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals, all of which are vital for maintaining a healthy brain.

Studies have shown that the Mediterranean diet, which is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, and healthy fats is linked to a decreased risk of depression. Whereas, deteriorating diets with large intake of processed foods that are high in fat, sugar, and sodium are linked to increased incidence of mental illness. Certain mental illnesses can also impact nutrition. For instance, people with depression often notice changes in their eating habits as they either eat significantly more or significantly less. Others may notice an increase in craving foods that are high in sugar and simple carbohydrates, which can lead to “sugar crashes” and weight gain. The relationship between mental health and diet is complex and both can impact one another quite significantly.

4) Fitness and Exercise

We all know that physical exercise accounts for several benefits to the body including increased circulation, improved metabolism, and the body’s ability to use oxygen more efficiently. This directly impacts the overall health and fitness of the body, but did you know that these aspects also benefit the brain and all of the neurological functions it performs too?

Exercise has a significant impact on managing stress, along with the symptoms that stem from stress such as worry, irritability, and sleeping problems. Specifically, aerobic exercise such as running, biking, and swimming, can help alleviate anxiety and boost your mood. In fact, regular exercise is highly encouraged for those who are at risk of depression as exercise will help to mitigate negative symptoms. Research shows that exercise releases serotonin which is the same neurotransmitter in the brain that is targeted by many antidepressants, as well as endorphins which help alleviate pain and reduce stress.

Regular exercise can also significantly boost the immune system as it increases white blood cells and fights off infection. It also works to reduce levels of cytokines, a type of immune system chemical that may aggravate depression. It is evident that exercise has a significant impact on physical and mental health, but how exactly does one benefit psychologically? Exercise can build confidence, help people set and meet goals, and help people socialize within their community.

5) Sleep

Having a good night’s sleep is extremely important for maintaining both physical and mental health. Sleep helps people feel alert and refreshed, increases their ability to concentrate and perform complex physical and mental tasks, and plays a key role in stress management.

Furthermore, sleep is essential for proper brain function, and is closely linked to serotonin and melatonin, which are directly associated with a person’s mood. If you have a bad night’s sleep, you will notice effects almost immediately. Your mood and emotional state will suffer as it is likely that you will be more emotional, drowsy, and irritable, as well as have a lack of focus and concentration on activities. Imagine an exhausted child; the effects are pretty similar for adults, and no one wants that! Physically, your body’s function will also suffer in terms of impaired memory and lack of attention focus.

In terms of the body, the body performs important repair and maintenance work during sleep such as tissue repair, cell regeneration, and the brain regulating important chemicals to allow for body, tissue, and organ growth.

Additionally, sleep deprivation puts the body under a lot of stress, which negatively affects the function of your immune system, and in turn, makes you more vulnerable to colds, flus, and infections. A sleep deprived immune system will make you more susceptible to serious diseases including high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.

A lack of sleep can take a huge toll on you physically, mentally, emotionally, and professionally, which can in turn affect your work, family, and relationships. Therefore, it is important for adults to attain 7 or more hours of sleep a night.

6) Stress Management

Whether it be for exciting moments like receiving a promotion or having a baby, or for unexpected and sad moments like an illness or loss of a job, it is inevitable that everyone will go through periods of stress throughout their lives. Stress can even come from minor everyday instances. The important thing is that you establish healthy ways to manage your stress.

Stress has a strong impact on your physical and mental health. In the body, stress can cause high blood pressure, an upset stomach, aches and pains, and insomnia. In the mind, stress can trigger anxiety, irritability, and negative emotions. Furthermore, stress presents many symptoms that are similar to those of mental illnesses including sleep problems, difficulty concentrating, irritability, and appetite changes.

One of the main dangers of stress is that it’s often linked to unhealthy coping mechanisms. People who are significantly affected by stress may neglect their healthy eating habits, skip their workout routines, stay up late, and smoke or consume alcohol more. These factors should be used to help cope with stress, however, they can also be neglected when someone is in a poor and stressful mental state. Therefore, when stressful situations arise, it is vital that you work to positively manage your stress. Here are some ways to help cope with stress:

  • Stay consistent with your diet, exercise, and sleep.
  • Learn how to unwind and develop your relaxation techniques. Deep breathing or visualization, as well as activities like yoga and meditation tend to be great methods of relaxation.
  • Learn about stress management through workshops, books, and programs, which can be recommended by your health-care provider.
  • Balance your roles and responsibilities by prioritizing your tasks and setting boundaries.
  • Make your health and wellbeing a priority! Eat well, stay active, get enough sleep, and nurture healthy relationships.

We hope this blog helps you better understand the relationship between physical and mental health, as well as provide you with ways you can bolster your health and wellbeing. Our team of professionals have helped countless clients enhance their overall health and wellness with the various services we offer at our Kitchener (Lancaster and Driftwood), Baden, and  Waterloo locations.

Want more lifestyle advice on how to improve your overall health and wellness? Contact our Livewell Health and Physiotherapy Kitchener (Lancaster and Driftwood), Baden, or Waterloo teams to get more information and book your next appointment. You can also reach out to us by email or social media and one of our team members would be more than happy to answer any of your questions! All of our practitioners have more tips and expert guidance to help improve the overall quality of your life.