While there are numerous studies to support the fact that our mental health has an impact on our physical health, and vice versa, we have often been slow to respond to the changes that can help us lead to our best mental and physical health.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, mental and physical health are equally important components of overall health. For example, depression increases the risk of many types of physical problems like diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. Also, having a chronic illness from poor health habits can lead to depression.
There are “Four Pillars of Health” that can lead to overall health: sleep, physical activity, nutrition, and social engagement. Taking small steps to weave these pillars into your day can lead to overall health. Try a new exercise program, take the stairs instead of the elevator, journal, put your phone down for an hour, meet with friends and family. Start small until these small changes become habits. Then increase your habits to give you more benefits. However, sometimes it’s difficult to simply start the process. If you need support, join an exercise group, see a nutritionist or seek out counseling so that the small steps you take are more manageable.
Studies show that physical activity has a host of benefits from brain health to reducing the risk of disease to lessening depression. A recent study shows that taking a five-minute stroll every half hour when possible can lower blood pressure. At work or home, use the stairs; if you are studying for a test, set a timer and take a 5 minute walk; walk to dinner or to shop. The trick is being intentional about moving and to move most days. These behaviors will positively impact your mental and physical health.
Since physical and mental health are related, make sure you also take care of your psychological and emotional well-being. Counseling, religious activities, time with friends and family all support mental health. Research shows that writing a letter of gratitude to someone who has gifted you creates overall happiness for up to two months. You might try keeping a gratitude journal or texting a friend everytime you start to go on youtube. And any type of journaling has been shown to increase overall health. Buy yourself a journal you can enjoy and a pen you love holding. Then start the process, even for 5 minutes a day.
In short, we have all been impacted by COVID, and the loss of social connection in particular has impacted us. These are reminders that you can change incrementally and create more mental and physical health for yourself, leading to a happier, more fulfilled life.
If you would like support or more information about our integrative mental health program at the nCenter, call (406) 599-2492 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. At the nCenter, we believe that your physical health is vital to your mental health and vice versa.