Balancing the Interconnectivity Between Mental and Physical Health
The push pull of the mind-body interconnection is intwined in both health and in managing chronic conditions. There are chronic physical conditions that can aggravate mental health conditions and vice versa. Understanding this tug of war for health and wellness can be effective in finding ways to manage both.
Physical conditions like Diabetes, Cancer, Auto-immune disorders, and PTSD can all lead to a rise in anxiety, depression, and the aggravation of mental health disorders. Mental health issues can also cause physical disorders to increase in symptoms and limitations.
The Mental Health Foundation in the UK reported that depression can increase mortality in both heart disease and cancer by more than 30%. So how do we manage this push-pull and how do we manage both simultaneously. The Mental Health Foundation in the UK recommends activities that are mutually beneficial. That would include diet/nutrition, exercise, and curbing/eliminating smoking.
For chronic disorders such as Type 2, Heart Disease and others that are closely aligned with dietary choices and exercise activity levels. By managing diet and increasing healthy choices the markers for these illnesses can be reduced including blood pressure and glucose levels. There are strong organizations that can recommend dietary choices to have optimal effects including the Diabetes and Heart Associations.
Exercise increases endorphins and reduces many depressive symptoms. Fresh air and sunshine can also have benefits for chronic conditions (sunscreen please).
Smoking and the related impact of nicotine has significant impact on the blood-brain connection. It aggravates depression and can reduce energy levels which can increase chronic symptoms.
Managing health whether physical or mental is challenging, but lifestyle changes can make a world of difference in the initial impact. It is often incredibly challenging to cook healthy and move more when you a hurting from chronic conditions or overwhelmed with the impact of depression or other mental health challenges, but if you take small steps, envision the results you are working toward, pair up with others to motivate each other and keep moving forward – then small steps will suddenly lead to bigger results.
One of the overarching triggers for both physical and mental health and this push pull dynamic is managing self-perception, self-image, and self-esteem. Often it is the largest obstacle in making healthy lifestyle choices. Depression makes it easy to believe you do not deserve self-care, self-love, and healthy choices. Choosing everyone else’s needs without any energy to work on your own care. Anxiety and depression can be deeply impacted by diet, exercise, and other healthy choices.
Taking the time to work with a counselor or mental health professional on a personal strategy, adding a life coach or wellness coach can be a catalyst for improvements in both mental and physical health.