The mind and the body are often imagined to be separate, but mental happiness and physical health are intrinsically connected. Where people exhibit poor physical health there is a greater risk of developing mental health issues, such as anxiety or depression. Likewise, where people suffer from poor mental health there is an increased chance of experiencing poor physical health.
This is why it’s important to look after yourself physically in order to stay strong mentally. To help you focus your efforts, we’ve put together a few things we think everyone should know about how your physical health impacts your mental health.
Does sleep affect mental health?
The short answer? Definitely. We all know that sleep is important to your body. Yet it is surprisingly common for sleep to be forgotten about in the conversation of mental health. Not getting enough sleep could lead to low mood or lapses in concentration, and even exacerbate anxiety and depression. What’s worse, all of these things can in turn affect the quality of your sleep - it can become one big drowsy cycle!
Because you’ll spend around a third of your life doing it, ensuring you have plenty of good quality sleep is essential to your physical and mental wellbeing. Our top tip would be to consider your sleeping environment. A favourite fix for us is to fill you bedroom with air-purifying plants! Or you could treat yourself to a good old decluttering!
Feeling stressed at work? Need some advice on reducing you anxiety in the office? Take a look at our Top 5 tips for avoiding stress at work.
Does exercise affect mental health?
Again, this is another easy question - there’s a reason why people feel so good after exercising! Physical activity does more than give you a sense of accomplishment. When you exercise, you’re flooding your body with endorphins. On a chemical level, they have a similar effect to morphine!
The more active you are, the better you will feel. Even a short period of light exercise every day is enough to increase your concentration a boost your mood. Sometimes it can be difficult to find the energy but fit some fitness into your routine and you will really reap the rewards!
Make sure you’re following up your exercising with a good post-workout food choice! Speaking of food, that brings us to our favourite topic...
Does your diet affect mental health?
YES! In the pursuit of happiness, there’s no doubt at all that food and drink play a huge role. Partly because we enjoy eating, and great tasting food makes us happy, but there’s also more going on than at first might meet the eye.
Good nutrition from a varied diet is essential in controlling our mood and our mind. Balancing your protein intake with complex carbs, good fats, vitamins, minerals and water is one way to prevent, manage or overcome mental health issues.
Quick diet tips for maintaining a good mood!
1. Stay hydrated!
The average person should be aiming to drink around 8 glasses of water per day. Other drinks such as tea of juice will count towards you fluid intake, but watch out - they may contain sugars.
2. Control your caffeine!
As powerful stimulants, caffeinated drinks like coffee can make you feel great...for a while. Eventually, though, the energy burst will wear off and you could be left feeling quite low. This crash has been known to exacerbate feelings of anxiety and stress. Be sure to manage your caffeine intake carefully, especially too close to bedtime.
3. Be good to your gut!
There is a lot of study into how your gut health is connected to your emotional wellbeing and mood. Pay attention to how your body is reacting to heightened stress or anxiety. Esure you get plenty of fibre from fruits, vegetables, grains and probiotics.
(We wrote a blog post all about being kind to your gut with Gut Friendly Foods!)
Did we miss anything out? Are there any tips, tricks or methods you use for staying both physically fit and mentally healthy? Do you have any recipes you’d like to share with our community?