Have you ever wondered why your heart beats faster before an important meeting or before getting a vaccination? How can the things that we think about, stress over or look forward to change the way that our body performs?
Our mental/emotional health and our physical health are inseparable units when it comes to how well our body functions. Your heart rate goes up when you experience anxiety, or maybe you eat more when you’re sad. Or, on the inverse, a good morning run could be just the thing that you need to de-stress before your day.
We know that a healthy body and a healthy mind go hand in hand, but what can we do to take care of both?
1. Eat well.
When Snickers coined the tagline “You’re not you when you’re hungry,” they knew what they were talking about. And, it’s no surprise that the hybrid slang term “hangry” (hungry-angry) is so frequently utilized.
Our brain needs nutrients just like any other part of our body, and when we feel sluggish, lethargic or scattered, what we’ve eaten may have something to do with it. While healthy fats and vitamins are crucial to brain functioning, consumption of unhealthy fats and sugars can not only make us feel physically worse, but also cause us to feel insecure. Mental disorders such as depression and anorexia correlate with other physical ailments such as heart disease and malnutrition.
2. Sleep well.
They said that pulling all-nighters in college before a big exam wouldn’t work, and this is why:
When you’re awake, your brain is constantly receiving and sending messages based on everything that you see, hear, feel and do. When you’re asleep, your brain gets a break from interpreting information and gets to focus on processing the day before and preparing for the day ahead. Sleeping helps you to retain information and puts you in the right “frame of mind” to receive more. A good night’s sleep will help your decision making and also your interpersonal relationships because (as we all know) dealing with others is no easy task when you’re tired.
Physically, “you’re growing when you’re sleeping,” and not just taller (although for children, this is true). When you’re sleeping, your body is repairing itself and keeping different hormone levels balanced. Poor sleep is often linked to weak immune system, heart disease, obesity and other physical ailments.
The physical health benefits of staying active may be a no-brainer, but the brain benefits are there too. In general, what’s good for your heart is good for your brain. Increased heart rate during exercise means more oxygen to the brain and the release of hormones that support cranial health.
The promotion of your own physical health can help improve your self-esteem as well, as you build strength, endurance and flexibility. Additionally, physical exercises such as yoga are heavily focused on the self and meditation. Emphasis on skills such as balance are transferrable in both your stretches and your personal thoughts and behaviors.
4. Balance work and play.
That 40-hour work week can be brutal. Not only can you become tired and stressed, but you may also experience back pain from sitting, eye discomfort from looking at screens or carpal tunnel from writing and typing all day. While working pays the bills, it’s not the healthiest thing we can put our body and mind through.
Make your time off count. While a quiet night on the couch is warranted every once in a while, try to go out and see other people. Go for a hike, go bowling, or simply go shopping. Being on your feet and interacting with others will boost your mood and loosen up your muscles after a long day or week at work.
5. Visit a doctor regularly.
When you’re a child, you may visit your pediatrician every year for a physical, but as we get older, visiting a doctor becomes more difficult, and we may only seek medical attention when something goes wrong. This is especially true of our mental health, which often never receives a regular “check-up” at all.
Make an effort to see a provider annually (even when you feel fine), and remember, doctors can do more than just check your pulse; talk to them about your mental health as well, and be open to regular outpatient visits with a therapist. Taking the time to tend to your emotional well-being can make all the difference in promoting your overall health.
GenPsych Mental Health Services GenPsych offers a variety of outpatient programs for those in need of mental health services. In addition to treating general mental health disorders, such as depression and anxiety, we offer an Eating Disorder program designed specifically for those with anorexia, bulimia and other eating disorders not otherwise specified.
About GenPsych GenPsych PC is the premier New Jersey mental health outpatient treatment provider with various levels of care. We offer a Partial Care Program, Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) and Individual Outpatient services. GenPsych Specializes in Depression Treatment, Anxiety Treatment, Eating Disorder Treatment and Substance Abuse Treatment. We offer psychiatric evaluations, medication protocols, substance abuse treatment, group therapy, individual therapy, and family therapy at all our locations. Learn more about GenPsych’s mental health programs. Schedule an appointment.