Top 4 Ways to Improve Your Mental and Physical Health Simultaneously
Guest blog post: Donna Maurer
Many of us see mental and physical health as two separate issues, but they really go hand in hand. The two should not be considered separately because mental health affects physical health. At the same time, poor physical health can have a dramatic impact on your mental health. In this article, we’ll cover a few ways that you can improve your mental and physical health simultaneously, and why it’s so important.
How Mental and Physical Health Go Hand in Hand
In our culture, we generally turn to a physiatrist or counselor when we are dealing with mental or emotional distress. If we’re experiencing physical illness, we turn to a physician. But that may not be the best course of action. Recognizing the relationship between the two and treating the individual holistically may be more beneficial.
There is a clear link between mental health and longevity. Significant evidence shows that those who suffer from mental health issues, such as chronic depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia don’t live as long as those who don’t have these issues. Chronic depression has been shown to increase the risk of both cancer and heart disease, which can both impact longevity.
The connection between mental and physical health becomes more evident when we consider the symptoms of chronic depression. Depression itself can lead to several physical conditions that can impact the quality of life. These physical symptoms include lack of energy, aches and pains, headaches, and digestive problems. Of course, depression also leads to challenges such as feelings of sadness and hopelessness, lack of focus, and even thoughts of death or suicide.
There is also a strong relationship between physical health and mental health. Many people who are dealing with chronic illnesses such as diabetes, multiple sclerosis, heart disease, or even chronic pain, often manifest psychological issues over time. Common symptoms include depression, insomnia, lack of energy, poor appetite, and difficulty focusing.
The Top Four Ways to Improve Your Mental and Physical Health Simultaneously
Although our society puts a lot of emphasis on physical health, it’s clear that mental and physical health are equally important when considering overall well-being. Your daily routine should include activities and practices that are good for both the mind and the body. Here are four practical ways to improve your mental and physical health at the same time.
Exercise is one of the few activities that will benefit both your body and mind almost instantly, and over time. Physically, exercise boosts your heart rate and improves blood flow throughout your body (including your brain) within moments of starting the activity. You also begin to burn fat and calories right away. But, even more than the physical benefits, you’ll also see an almost immediate improvement in your mood. Here’s why:
During your workout, your lungs start working harder right away to deliver oxygen to your muscles and organs, making them stronger and healthier. Exercise also triggers an immediate flood of feel-good hormones, called endorphins, leaving you feeling happier and more energized. And of course, you’re burning fat and calories which helps maintain a healthy weight.
But the benefits don’t end when you stop working out. Exercise also boosts your immune system for about 24 hours after your workout, which means it protects you from colds and other illnesses. For a couple of hours after your workout, serotonin, endorphins, and dopamine are released, leaving you in a better state of mind long after you stop exercising.
Over the next day or two after your workout, your muscles will begin to heal and rebuild, building lean muscle and burning more calories. Your blood pressure will be lower for about 16 hours. And, thanks to the increased flow of oxygen and blood to the brain, you will feel extra alert and focused for quite some time after your workout.
If all that’s not enough, exercising regularly also increases your insulin sensitivity, which reduces your blood sugar levels and reduces your chances of developing type 2 diabetes. Regular exercise makes your body and internals systems stronger over time. It could also activate growth-stimulating proteins in your brain to help repair and grow brain cells.
Exercise is probably the single most effective thing you can do to increase your longevity and boost your mental health at the same time. Just 30 minutes of brisk exercise three times each week can have a positive effect on the health of your mind and body.
Acupuncture: Acupuncture also provides significant benefits for both mental and physical health. This alternative healing method has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for nearly 2,500 years, but it has steadily gained popularity across the globe in recent decades.
During an acupuncture treatment, an acupuncture physician uses ultra-fine needles to stimulate specific acupuncture points throughout the body. This stimulation causes a biomedical response at the acupuncture point or the affected part of the body. Your sensory neurons send messages to your body’s central nervous system, promoting the release of certain hormones in the body.
Acupuncture is commonly used for treating and healing both acute and chronic pain in muscles and joints. It is believed that the stimulation of the needles causes endorphins to be released. Endorphins are the body’s natural pain fighters, so acupuncture can also help with chronic migraines and headaches.
Experts also report that acupuncture can be helpful for strained muscles and nerve disorders like sciatica and carpal tunnel syndrome. It has also been used to treat other types of pain, like arthritis, tendonitis, and post-operative pain. It may even boost the body’s T-cell count, which is crucial for fighting viruses and bacteria throughout the body.
Anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues also respond well to acupuncture because it stimulates the release of dopamine in the brain. Acupuncture also stimulates the production of melatonin, which is the hormone that tells the body it’s time for sleep, so it’s an effective treatment for insomnia and other sleep disorders. Acupuncture also stimulates the pituitary and hypothalamus glands and improves overall health and wellbeing.
Incorporating regular acupuncture sessions into your self-care routine is beneficial to the mind and body in many ways. Because of the holistic nature of acupuncture, many patients notice improvements in mental and physical areas where they didn’t even realize they had an issue.
While it’s true that yoga is technically a form of exercise, it offers some unique physical and mental benefits that you don’t always get from regular exercise. Yoga practitioners have better circulation, more energy, improved flexibility, and they’re better able to cope with stress. It’s also a form of exercise that can be adapted to accommodate the needs of people of all fitness levels and ages.
Yoga also teaches breathing, meditation, and relaxation techniques that can help relieve anxiety, depression, and other mental issues. It can be especially helpful for creating calmness and mindfulness during times of stress and hardship. Because of the connection between psychological and physical health, it can be extremely beneficial during times of illness.
And of course, yoga stimulates the release of dopamine and endorphins, just like any other type of exercise, which just makes you feel good. Yoga has been shown to improve cardiovascular health, reduce blood pressure, and improve hypertension. It is also beneficial for issues such as back and joint pain. Clearly, practicing yoga on a regular basis is good for both the body and the mind.
Functional medicine experts at Rahav Wellness recommend custom IV drip therapy as a safe, natural, and holistic way to improve overall health and wellbeing. We all know that proper hydration is essential for physical health, but it turns out that it’s essential for mental health, too. Not only that, but certain vitamin deficiencies, especially B vitamins, are known contributors to mental fatigue and a slower metabolism.
Dehydration and vitamin deficiencies can lead to a lack of energy, depression, or just a bad mood in general. In fact, some experts even believe that these issues are a likely contributor to other mood-related disorders like anxiety and insomnia. When your brain is dehydrated, it doesn’t work as efficiently, meaning it can’t produce important neurotransmitters, like serotonin, that affect our moods.
IV therapy is a much more effective way to replenish electrolytes and trace nutrients than sipping a sports drink or taking a pill. IV nutrients are delivered directly into the bloodstream, bypassing the digestive system completely. This allows them to be absorbed instantly to relieve mental fog, boost your energy levels, and improve overall health.