When the global COVID-19 pandemic hit, everyone learned quickly that their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are closely related to concerns about physical wellness. Even as more locations begin to reopen, we have to consider the pandemic when we prepare to travel or move about in our communities. But mental health and physical wellness have always been closely linked. Here’s how it works and what you can do to improve both types of well-being.
The Connection Goes Both Ways
Your physical health affects your mental health, and vice-versa. Imagine that you break your leg while playing a sport. Now, you can’t play the sport anymore for a while. If you don’t find other ways to stay active, your health will begin to decline. You feel less physically competent, and it begins to affect your mood. Since you aren’t getting much exercise during the day, you have trouble getting to sleep at night. All these changes affect your mental health. Now, you begin to feel disinterested in life, and you’re sad that you can’t be with your friends in the game. There are ways to avoid becoming depressed, but you will have to work at it.
Now, imagine a different scenario. You’re physically healthy, but something happens in your life that triggers depression. You feel sad and disconnected from others and your usual activities. Depression often causes changes in appetite and sleep, so you begin to neglect your physical health. Now, you’re both physically and mentally unhealthy. This type of situation happens often.
Panic Disorder – A Case in Point
Panic disorder is a mental illness, but it’s one that has symptoms you would probably recognize as physical. You can read more about this condition at https://www.mind-diagnostics.org/blog/panic-disorder. Some of the physical symptoms include rapid breathing, racing or pounding heart, trembling, chills, sweating, tingling, chest pain, nausea, and stomach pain.
Panic disorder sounds like a physical problem, doesn’t it? However, it is indeed a mental disorder, so you’ll also have symptoms related to your thoughts and emotions. You might have trouble concentrating, an intense fear of having another panic attack or of having a heart attack and avoiding situations where you think you might have a panic attack.
Panic disorder isn’t physically dangerous, even though it physically feels that way. However, if your worry about having panic attacks prompts you to avoid engaging in physical activity or disrupts your self-care habits, it can have a detrimental effect on your physical wellbeing.
How to Have the Best of Both Worlds
To be both mentally and physically healthy, you need to pay attention to both sides of the equation. That’s especially true when you are facing a mental or physical challenge. So, whenever you have a physical setback, be mindful of how it’s affecting your mental health. If you have to curtail your usual physical activities for a while, talk to your doctor about how to meet those needs in other ways. Practice good mental self-care, giving special attention to the things you can do to keep your mood level and your mind on positive things.
On the other hand, if you’re having a mental health crisis, don’t let that problem keep you from taking care of your body. Even if you don’t feel like you’re in the mood for it, get some exercise, some sunshine, and eat the right amount of healthy food. When you do, you’ll not only avoid physical deterioration, but you’ll also improve your mental health at the same time.
The mind and body go together in more ways than most people realize. If you want to be healthy in your mind and body, you need to pay attention to both. Taking care of every aspect of who you are, inside and out, maybe a challenge at times. But in the end, it’s well worth the effort.