Two or One?
Body and mind are very often spoken of as two different entities but when it comes to health they should be looked at as integrated. It is well recognised that poor physical health can lead to mental health issues and vice versa.
To quote a couple of facts form the Mental Health Foundation, there is a 67% greater risk of death from heart disease for people suffering from depression, while there is three times the risk of dying from respiratory disease if people are diagnosed with Schizophrenia.
This is thought to be the case because these people are less likely receive physical healthcare they are entitled to. Mental health service users are statistically less likely to receive routine checks, such as blood pressure as the clinicians are more likely to focus on offering them help to give up addictions, such as smoking and alcohol.
Life style factors
These life style factors can influence mental and physical health at the same time.
Exercise has been proven to help with physical and mental well-being because it releases the 'feel good' chemicals called endorphins in the brain. This is similar to eating chocolate or having sex (which is exercise in itself ;-)).
Even a ten-minute brisk walk that raises the heart rate will help improve mental alertness, energy and positive mood.
This exercise means that you get an improvement in your respiratory system, builds a stronger heart, strengthens circulation and increases stamina, all of which lead to a much healthier body.
Good nutrition is also a critical factor in influencing how we feel and how are body stays healthy. A healthy diet is one that contains a balance of proteins, vitamins, minerals, complex carbohydrates and water. The food we eat can help us to manage and prevent many mental health conditions including depression and dementia.
It is like our body is a car. We need good fuel to run well and allow a long time before maintenance is required. If we put poor fuel in, akin to eating fast, fatty, high sugar foods which are low in essential nutrients, then the car runs poorly and won't last long until repairs are needed, like blocked fuel lines.
Smoking has a negative effect on physical and mental health as it is very addictive. Many people with mental health issues believe that it relieves the symptoms of stress, but it is very short lived thus making them want to smoke more.
People with depression are twice as likely to smoke and people with schizophrenia are three times as likely to smoke.
The deep breathing and taking time out from the busyness of life are good habits that can be done without the harm and expense of cigarettes. An old cigarette break could be changed into an opportunity for mindfulness - thinking on positive things, being thankful and changing from negative thoughts to positive.
People with long term medical conditions often have their mental health overlooked as the medical condition takes priority. However, this then does not allow for the stress and anguish that this causes and therefore the person can become depressed and obsessional about their condition.
If this is not addressed, then there is a good chance that the person may end up with not only a chronic physical health condition but also a chronic mental health condition, both of which may become detrimental to not only the person's long term well-being but also that of their family.
In conclusion it is important to remember that both physical and mental health are as important as each other and should be equally considered when assessing a person’s health and well-being.
We can look after ourselves in many ways by giving up things like smoking and reducing alcohol intake, taking regular exercise and having a well-balanced diet. All these things will help maintain a healthy body and thus, a healthy and stable mind.
We here at IDH Training are very keen on helping to keep everyone as healthy as they can be, so to this end we encourage people to lead healthy lives and maintain good mental health.