Often when we talk about body and mind a clear distinction is made between the two, however both should not be regarded as mutually exclusive from one another. When consideration is given to both mental and physical health, its important to understand that they both significantly impact one another.
The connection I am talking about can be seen when someone is suffering with poor physical health which can increase the risk of developing mental health problems. Furthermore, poor mental health can negatively impact upon physical health.
The Mental Health Foundation (2014) shows that 30% (15 million people) of the UK population live with one or more long-term physical health condition, of which 4 million of these will also be suffering with a mental health condition. Furthermore, people with long-term physical conditions are far more likely to suffer with lower well-being scores. Consequently, higher levels of stress and depression can be accountable to development of certain Cancers and coronary heart disease.
Notably, those who suffer with mental health issues are less likely to seek out or receive physical healthcare, furthermore, have poorer lifestyle choices such as poor diet and lack of exercise. Which all impact physical health overtime thus creating a vicious cycle.
Exercise and Mood
When we discuss lifestyle, exercise no doubt will be brought up. Certainly, when we hear or think about healthy lifestyle, we cannot help but think of some form of physical activity.
The positive link between exercise and mood, which impacts someone’s physical health and mental health in the long-term, is a very well researched and documented field. It has been proven time and time again that exercise (no matter how small the effort), helps with mental health issues such as depression by increasing serotonin (which helps the brain regulate appetite, sleep and mood). Furthermore, helping to alleviate stress and anxiety, reducing blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Exercise has also been shown to potentially improve working memory, improve alertness and attention, and generally give a more positive well-being regarding a sense of self.
Within this current climate where we have all been encouraged to stay at home and have limited exercise to once a day, there is no coincidence that mental health issues have skyrocketed. I have been working with several clients who have seen a significant decline in their mental health since the lockdown started, and for some, this has made their physical health issues worse.
I have been educating clients upon the link between physical activity and mental well-being and explaining that even if it is once a day, they should try to at least either keep their physical exercise going or adopt a new exercise plan. It has been explained that exercise promotes chemicals to improve mood and helps the brain release lovely endorphins (feel-good) chemicals. In fact, any amount of exercise, even a gentle walk would reduce the lockdown stress and in some cases lockdown fatigue, boost low mood and enhance a person’s self-esteem levels. Furthermore, exercise will help someone’s sleep, which is fundamental for both body and mind.
At Find a Life of Wellbeing, we work with clients for body and mind. Cultivating this connection between. Starting small and working towards weekly targets is the best way to begin to create some good, healthy habits. In doing so you will facilitate the significant connection between body and mind and thus counteracting the vicious cycle between poor mental and physical health.
Yours in wellbeing,
Vicki Simpson-Price Psychotherapist (Ad, Dip CS MNHS Acc.)
The Mental Health Foundation (2014) ‘Mental health statistics: physical health conditions’ [online] Available at https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/statistics (Accessed 9th May 2020).