Mental Health is an Important Aspect of Health
Mental health is but one aspect of your overall health. However, it’s an important one. Mental health affects your thoughts, your feelings, as well as your behaviors. This, in turn, can have an influence on all other aspects of your health. In this post, I’ll be talking a bit about how mental health influences your overall health.
Aspects of Health
When you think about health, your immediate thought may go to your physical health. But if you take a big-picture view of what health means and entails, you can see that it has a multidimensional aspect
- Physical Health
- Social Health
- Emotional Health
- Environmental Health
- Occupational Health
How These Aspects Contribute to Your Experience of Health
Together, all of these aspects contribute to how you experience your own health. For example, if the environmental health of where you live or work is poor, that will influence your physical health. You may have difficulty breathing if there’s some type of environmental contaminant like mold. Another example of how environmental health can affect physical health is sick-building syndrome which may result in chronic fatigue and other ailments.
Needless to say, if your physical health is poor, that can also affect your mental health. You may feel depressed or angry that you’re feeling fatigued or experiencing pain. This can then influence your emotional or social health as you find yourself withdrawing more from others. The quality of your close relationships can change, particularly if you find that you’re needing increasing assistance or support.
How Mental Health Influences Overall Health
Let’s take a closer look now at how mental health influences your health through thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. In doing this, I hope to illustrate how mental health can influence one’s aging experience. After all, life is a continuum in which I believe that your mental health can play an important role in how you experience the quality of your life.
And ultimately, I know everybody wants to experience a good life regardless of their age, gender, sexual identification, ethnic/cultural background, or economic class.
Distressing or negative thoughts can create feelings of anxiety or depression. Ruminating on such thoughts can contribute to physical ailments such as an upset stomach, headaches, or tension in different parts of your body. For some children and teens, they may find themselves dealing with their thoughts in negative ways like cutting, which could lead to long-lasting harm to the body.
If you’re struggling with your thoughts, try to take some time to reconnect with your body. Oftentimes when people get lost in their thoughts, they operate only from their heads and forget about the rest of them. To reconnect with your body, try doing something physical that you enjoy.
For those who are musically-inclined, this could be dancing, singing, or playing an instrument. As well, it could simply be finding some time to sit in stillness while drawing your attention to your breath. Whatever it is that you choose to do, remember that you are more than your thoughts.
How you feel about your situation can influence your thoughts and behaviors. For example, an adult child responsible for providing care to a family member may feel overwhelmed by their loved one’s needs. They may think that the situation will never get better. This, in turn, can lead to caregiver burnout, which can lead to physical stress responses such as insomnia or high blood pressure. The quality of the care they provide may become compromised as a result.
If this describes your situation, you may benefit from cultivating a community of support so that you aren’t alone in your experience. The psychoeducational class, Powerful Tools for Caregivers, maybe just the resource you need. Free classes are offered all over the United States.
Still for children or teens, their feelings may be so overwhelmingly strong that they don’t know how to deal with them. Or, they may lack the language to even identify how they’re feeling. This can lead to behaviors such as acting out or withdrawing. In cases like this where it’s difficult to express through words how one is feeling, expressive non-verbal activities such as making art or making music can help bring feelings up to the surface so that they can be expressed in a healthy and safe way.
As you may have gathered from the previous points, behavior can be connected to your thoughts and feelings. This is because your thoughts and feelings provide an underlying motivation to do the things that you need to do. Or they provide the motivation to avoid doing the things that you need to do and/or don’t want to do.
When you find yourself in such a situation, ask yourself, “What is one thing that I can do to help myself move forward in order to feel better?” It doesn’t have to be a big thing because even small, manageable actions can lead to positive changes. Maybe meditating for 5 minutes is all you can do. Perhaps going for a walk for 10 minutes is all you can do. Just do whatever you feel is manageable to do and take note of how you feel afterwards.
What’s Your State of Health?
Now it’s time to reflect upon your own health. I invite you to notice how your mental health may be affecting these other aspects of health that I’ve discussed. Likewise, take note of how these other aspects of health may be affecting your mental health.
Write down your thoughts and insights so that you can identify where you might be able to make some changes. If you find that you could use some help with making these changes, reach out and let me know. I’m happy to see how I might be able to support you in improving your health.