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As mental health awareness increases in our current society, it’s no secret that up until recently, mental health was viewed as a completely separate entity from physical health.  However, many recent studies now confirm the two are much more related than we may have thought. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, nearly one in five U.S adults lives with a mental illness; as of 2016, that came out to a staggering number of over 44 million people.  Despite this statistic, most Americans have had a difficult time placing the same importance on both mental and physical health, when in fact, the two are directly related, as one can always affect the other.

Your mental health can play a direct role in how you maintain your physical health.  Whether it’s your level of physical activity, diet, and nutrition, amount of sleep, or the potential to develop unhealthy habits such as smoking or consuming alcohol, your mental health can have a greater impact than you may think.  Consider physical activity and diet. Individuals with mental health conditions are often less likely to focus on maintaining a healthy diet and participating in physical activity. For many, a positive mental state is a great motivator to maintain a overall healthy lifestyle.  

When your mind is not at ease due to chronic anxiety or depression, you may find simple tasks such as sleep, becoming increasingly more difficult.  A severe lack of sleep can not only decrease your body’s physical capabilities but can also substantially lower your immune system, making it harder to fight off illness.  Mental illnesses that go unnoticed or untreated can also result in individuals trying to manage them with harmful substances such as drugs, alcohol, or tobacco.  These substances can not only alter your mind in a negative way but have a direct impact on your body and its internal functions.

Looking at things from the other side, poor physical health can have the same negative impacts on an individual’s mental health.  Living with physical ailments can cause individuals to face anxiety, depression, or other serious mental health issues such as Post Tramautic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  PTSD can make it extremely difficult for an individual to find a balance between the health of their mind and body.

Your mental and physical health are both equally important and should be taken seriously.  Use different ways to maintain both and keep your mind and body healthy.