Your mindset profoundly impacts your physical health, more than you may realize. The foundation of a robust physique lies in a flourishing mind. A positive context of mind significantly affects not just your emotional state but your overall well-being.
Particularly past the age of 40, realizing this bond becomes increasingly critical in sustaining holistic health and wellness. As our bodies evolve with time, a renewed focus on physical well-being is essential. The silver lining is that it’s never too late to commence a healthy lifestyle.
The Mind-Body Connection
The mind-body connection is a well-accepted phenomenon, but the specific ways it works are not always clear. You might think of your brain as the boss of your body, telling it what to do and when to do it. But there’s more going on than that, and understanding this relationship will help you make better decisions about improving both your physical and mental well-being.
The first step toward making progress on either front is understanding that both factors are equally important.
The state of your mind determines how effectively you care for your physical self and how well you maintain your physical health, inversely influencing your energy and motivation.
Maintaining a healthy mindset enables improvement in your physical health.
Your mental health affects your physical health in more ways than you think. When discussing the mind-body connection, most people consider how their thoughts and emotions can impact their physical bodies. (1,2)
Indeed, our mental health significantly influences our physical health. But what may be less apparent is the ripple effect that working towards a healthy mental attitude and mental health will have on your physical health.
Consistent research has validated that our state of mind plays a crucial role in impacting our physical health. A positive outlook not only enhances our resilience to handle stress more effectively but also aids in preventing diseases, facilitating a healthier life.
For example, if someone is stressed out about an upcoming presentation at work or a big date later that night, they might feel nauseous or dizzy. But what about when it’s the other way around? What happens when our physical health influences our mindset?
Having a healthy mindset increases your likelihood of maintaining a balanced diet and regular exercise. Simultaneously, working towards mental health improvement will most likely enhance your physical health. So how do we get to that place? The key lies in self-care. Looking after yourself is the best approach to preserving a sound mind and body. There are plenty of ways to achieve this:
- Sufficient Sleep
- Regular Exercise and Staying Active
- A Healthy Balanced Diet
- Stress Management
All the above are proven to positively influence our physical health. They also aid in stress management and confidence building, making them beneficial for mental health.
A positive mindset reduces stress, linked to several chronic diseases, including heart diseases and cancer, and exacerbates existing conditions. Therefore, learning stress management techniques could have mental benefits beyond feeling better. It improves sleep quality. Poor sleep quality could heighten blood pressure and risk factors like obesity and high cholesterol levels, leading to diabetes risks, according to Brigham Young University (BYU) research. It’s also associated with an increased risk of heart attack or stroke in older adults, as revealed by studies at the University of California San Francisco Medical Center. The good news is that enhancing your sleep hygiene can mitigate these risks over time. (3, 4)
Let’s discuss an aspect of your physical health that you might haven’t considered – how working towards a healthy mental attitude and mental health will improve physical health. It’s easy to ignore the effect our emotions have on our physical health, but it couldn’t be further from the truth. Several studies reveal how stress negatively impacts our bodies. Stress is associated with diseases and even earlier mortality. Moreover, even minor stressors like traffic or domestic arguments could increase premature death risk by 25%.
Mental Health And Physical Health Are Linked.
One of the critical actions you can take for physical health improvement is maintaining a healthy mindset. It might seem odd: how can working on a healthy frame of mind improve physical health? However, it’s not far from the truth. Mental wellness plays a crucial role in physical health and longevity. In fact, according to some researchers, stress and negative emotions are almost as detrimental to health as smoking or obesity regarding premature death.
The mind and body are interconnected, meaning that our physical state is often influenced by our thoughts. If you’re stressed or depressed, it can affect your physical health in many ways. The reverse effect also holds: illness can worsen depression or stress. Moreover, by working on enhancing our mental health, it’s possible to reverse this trend. Improving mental well-being can positively reinforce your physical health. Therefore, if you’re feeling stressed or depressed, self-care is incredibly vital!
Here are some ways your mental state can affect your physical health:
- Stress can cause inflammation linked to heart disease, diabetes, obesity, cancer, and depression.
- Depression affects more than 200 million people worldwide, yet only 10% receive treatment for it. (5)
- Chemical imbalances in the brain can cause depression and have been linked to other chronic illnesses such as heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. (6)
- The World Health Organization estimates that depression will be the leading cause of disability by 2020 — with suicide as one of its most significant contributors. If left untreated, depression can lead to social isolation, unemployment, substance abuse, and even suicide attempts or completed suicides (the second leading cause of death among 15-29 year olds). (7)
- Anxiety disorders affect more than 40 million American adults every year — about 18% of the U.S. population aged 18 or older, as per the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). Furthermore, anxiety disorders and depression are often co-associated. (8)
Regarding our health, we often focus on the physical symptoms: weight gain, aches and pains, and other signs that something is wrong. But what about mental health? Mental health is just as important as physical health. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “mental health” refers to a state of well-being in which an individual can realize his or her potential, cope with the everyday stresses of life, work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community. A healthy mind helps you deal with life’s challenges and maintain a positive outlook. (9)
Here are some ways to establish a healthy mindset and positively affect your physical health:
- Get Enough Sleep & Improve the Quality of Your Sleep. Sleep is important for physical and mental health. Studies show that getting enough sleep can protect against heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Stress or anxiety releases stress hormones like cortisol in your bloodstream, causing elevated blood pressure and increased heart rate, preventing quality sleep. If you struggle with sleep, consider improving your bedtime routine and doing relaxing activities before bedtime. It could be as straightforward as reading, taking a Lavender Epsom salts bath (a natural muscle relaxer), meditating or stretching before bed. (10)
- Eat well. Eating a balanced diet is key to staying healthy and maintaining mental wellness. Avoid eating too much sugar and processed foods, which can lead to weight gain, poor digestion, and other health problems down the road.
- Exercise regularly. Regular exercise helps keep your body fit and healthy while improving your mood by releasing endorphins in your brain — those feel-good chemicals that make us happier when we’re active or exercising regularly.
- Stay active throughout the day. Physical activity doesn’t necessarily have to be time spent at the gym or pounding pavement; simple activities like walking up stairs instead of taking an escalator or riding a bike instead of driving can also count toward increasing your daily activity level — which is good for both your physical.
Remember – your mindset is a powerful tool. You can actively influence your well-being and longevity by fostering a positive mind-body connection. As motivational speaker Wayne Dyer beautifully put it: “Change the way you look at things, and the things you look at change.”
Don’t overlook the importance of a healthy mind alongside a healthy body. Most of us know this but don’t always act on it. However, if you desire longevity and overall health, you must prioritize both.
So, how can you take control of your mindset? Start by identifying the thoughts that hinder you from pursuing the life you aim for. Perhaps, self-reflection time or professional therapeutic help is due.
Having recognized those negative thoughts, replace them with optimism that could motivate you towards life success!