|If you’ve been feeling less than your best mentally, it’s worth considering that the root cause may be related to your physical health. Because while wellness is often linked to the body, it also exerts a significant influence over one’s mental well-being.
In this article, we’ll explore the interplay between the body and the mind, tackling how the former impacts the latter. Plus, we’ll share a few wellness strategies, allowing you to subsequently boost your mental health.
Please note: This guest article does not contain healthcare, therapeutic or financial advice. If you are concerned about your health or well-being, speak with a health professional or visit your nearest medical facility in an emergency. The links in this article may be affiliate links that I will be compensated for at no additional cost to you.
Here are five ways in which the body affects the mind:
Exercise can improve your mood
Engaging in just a few minutes of moderate exercise a day can elevate your mood. Here’s how: when you work out, your body produces chemicals such as endorphins. These are aptly named “happy hormones”, which alleviate pain while creating a sense of pleasure.
Physical activity promotes better sleep
Exercise plays a vital role in facilitating a good night’s sleep. It does this by reducing the time it takes for you to fall asleep, referred to as the “sleep onset”.
When you’re well-rested, you can easily cope with stress, control your emotions, and manage your daily challenges. Furthermore, sufficient sleep helps you stay attentive, allowing you to perform well across every aspect of your life.
Wellness can ease stress
Have you ever noticed the toll that stress takes on your body? You may suddenly feel more anxious, sleep less, and experience physical symptoms such as stomach pains. These issues are often caused by increasing levels of cortisol in your body.
Physical wellness can ease stress by lowering your cortisol count. Additionally, it supports the production of neurotransmitters (e.g., dopamine and serotonin), which can help regulate stress levels.
Exercise may alleviate the symptoms of depression
Several studies have suggested that exercise may offer the same effects as medication for mild depression. However, do note that exercise isn’t a sufficient solution, especially if you suffer from severe issues. Exercise may help relieve some of the symptoms, but it should never replace professional treatment.
Wellness enhances self-worth
When you take care of yourself, you’re more likely to see positive changes in your appearance. Your skin will glow, your weight will be in the ideal range, and you’ll feel generally healthier because of your choices. These changes can lead to a more positive self-image and self-worth—both crucial aspects of one’s mental well-being.
Wellness strategies to promote mental well-being
From fitness to self-care, here are a few strategies that will help you improve your health while enhancing your mental well-being.
Engage in regular exercise
Any activity, as long as it gets you up and moving, will have significant benefits for both your body and mind. The trick is to find something that truly brings you joy, whether that’s tai chi, biking, or swimming. You’re more likely to maintain your workout regimen if you’re genuinely interested in it.
Ground yourself through yoga
If you’re seeking a slow and gentle workout, try yoga. Not only does it enhance your core strength, but it also soothes your body’s flight-or-fight response. This is because awareness of your breathing puts you in a more relaxed state. Furthermore, it provides you with the opportunity for meditation, which can make you feel centered and mentally strong.
Set work-life boundaries to make time for fun
As a 2022 study discovered, poor work-life balance can worsen both physical and mental well-being. And if that’s not enough to convince you not to overcommit, the Mental Health Foundation itself has said that work-related stress isn’t good for you.
Strive to set boundaries between work and personal life, giving you time to do the things you enjoy. If you find it challenging to resist calls, emails, etc. outside of work hours, consider mind-body transformative retreats. That way, you can truly get away from your daily commitments and dedicate time to personal growth.
Eat healthier food
Healthy food may not be as appealing as unhealthy options, but consider this: several studies have shown that one’s diet can lead to improved mental health. Some researchers even report that it may reduce the symptoms of depression.
Instead of processed foods, incorporate plenty of fruits, vegetables, protein, etc. into your diet. While research on the mental effects of food is still evolving, there’s really no harm in eating more healthily.
Show yourself some TLC. Practice self-compassion by taking a few moments each day to focus on yourself. Whether it’s following your skincare routine, diving into a good book, or revisiting hobbies you’ve long forgotten, the choice is entirely up to you!
Get enough sleep
Sufficient sleep works wonders for your mental well-being. To make sure you get enough shut-eye, aim for a minimum of 7 hours of sleep per night.
In addition to the duration, strive to improve your quality of sleep. One way to ensure this is by working out before bed. After you exercise, your body experiences a drop in temperature. This mirrors the natural cool-down that occurs before bed, telling your brain that it’s time to wind down for the day.
Better body, better mind
Wellness may often be linked to the body, but it also influences your mental well-being. By practicing different forms of wellness, you’ll be able to improve your body and enhance your mental state over time. Use our guide as a starting point, and see for yourself the transformative effect the body can have on the mind.
Related: 7 Ways Your Physical Health Is Connected to Your Mental Health
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