How Taking Care of Your Body Can Boost Your Mood (and Vice Versa)
It's a well-known fact that feeling good physically can make us feel good mentally. But did you know that the reverse is also true? That's right – the health of our bodies and the health of our minds are closely connected. So, if you want to give your mental health a boost, taking care of your physical health is a great place to start.
First, let's talk about how our physical health affects our mental health. It's a no-brainer that exercise is good for our bodies, but did you know it's also good for our minds? Studies have shown that regular physical activity can improve mood and reduce the risk of depression (Smith et al., 2018). And it's not just about hitting the gym – any activity that gets your heart rate up can be beneficial. So go for a run, try a new yoga class, or even just take a leisurely walk around the block. Your body (and your brain) will thank you.
But it's not just exercise that can impact our mental health – what we eat can also make a difference. A healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains has been linked to improved mental health (Jacka et al., 2017). So, the next time you're feeling down, try filling up on some mood-boosting nutrients instead of reaching for that bag of chips.
On the flip side, neglecting our physical health can have negative consequences for our mental health. Chronic physical illnesses, such as diabetes and heart disease, have been linked to an increased risk of mental health issues like depression and anxiety (Lee et al., 2016). So, it's important to take care of our bodies to support our mental well-being.
But it's not just our physical health that can impact our mental health – our mental health can also affect our physical health. Stress, for example, has been linked to a variety of physical health issues, including heart disease, diabetes, and gastrointestinal problems (Kiecolt-Glaser et al., 2016). And depression has been associated with an increased risk of physical health problems, such as cardiovascular disease and decreased immune function (Smith et al., 2017). So, taking care of our mental health is important not just for our overall well-being, but also for our physical health.
So, what's the takeaway? The relationship between our physical and mental health is a two-way street. By taking care of our bodies through exercise and a healthy diet, and by seeking support for our mental health when needed, we can improve both our physical and mental well-being. So, take care of yourself – your mind and body will thank you.
Jacka, F. N., O'Neil, A., Opie, R., Itsiopoulos, C., Cotton, S., Mohebbi, M., … Berk, M. (2017). A randomised controlled trial of dietary improvement for adults with major depression (the ‘SMILES’ trial). BMC Medicine, 15(1), 23. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12916-017-0791-y
Lee, S., Smith, M. W., & Suls, J. (2016). The association between physical illness and depression: A meta-analysis. Health Psychology, 35(11), 1199-1209. https://doi.org/10.1037/hea0000452
Smith, M. W., Marsland, A. L., & Giacomoni, K. U. (2018). Exercise and mental health: An evolutionarily conserved mechanism to improve mood? Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry, 82, 57-65. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pnpbp.2017.12.002