Both are important. We often distinguish between ‘mind’ and ‘body’. But when considering mental health and physical health, we should not think of the two as separate. There is a huge disconnect between physical and mental health since the founding of the National Health Service (NHS) in 1948. There is an increasing call on healthcare professionals to consider psychological wellbeing when treating the physical symptoms of a condition and vice versa.
Some of the lifestyle factors that can influence the state of both your physical and mental health are:
- Exercise: Physical activity in any form is a great way to keep you physically healthy as well as improving your mental wellbeing. Even a quick burst of 10 minutes of brisk walking increases our mental alertness, energy and positive mood. From tending your garden to running a marathon, even gentle forms of exercise can significantly improve your quality of life.
- Diet: Good nutrition is a crucial factor in influencing the way we feel. The food we eat can influence the development, management and prevention of many mental health conditions, including depression and Alzheimer’s.
- Smoking: Smoking has a negative impact on both mental and physical health. Many people with mental health problems believe that smoking relieves their symptoms, but these effects are only short term. Nicotine in cigarettes interferes with the chemicals in our brains. In the long term, this can make a person feel as though they need more and more nicotine in order to repeat this positive sensation.