The winter season can cause people to feel down, especially this year with more isolation and limited social interaction with friends and family. When we think about our mental health, we don’t usually tie that to how we feel physically. However, mental, and physical health go hand-in-hand in a holistic approach to overall wellness. For example, according to the Mental Health Foundation (MHF): Depression leads to…
- A 50% increase in the risk of death from cancer
- A 67% increase in the risk of death from heart disease
Since there is such a strong tie between both mental and physical health, it’s critical that both are made a priority and checked regularly. Often, those with mental health conditions focus primarily on their condition but don’t keep up with their regular checkups and screenings for blood pressure, cholesterol, and weight for example. And those with chronic health conditions tend to ignore their emotional health.
In addition to partnering with health professionals to monitor both your mental and physical health, here are three ways you can balance good emotional and physical health:
- Physical activity. Research shows that doing any form of exercise increases feel-good chemicals or endorphins in the brain. Regular exercise can have extremely positive impacts on depression, anxiety, and ADHD. Exercise can also relieve stress, improve memory, increase quality of sleep, and enhance your overall mood. And of course, physical activity can lower your cholesterol and blood pressure, and reduce your risk of heart disease. Exercise in any form, at any level, can vastly improve your health and it is never too late to add exercise into your daily routine.
- Diet. Choosing foods that are rich in nutrients is crucial to feeling your best and maintaining good health. Eating a balanced diet of lean proteins, healthy fats and carbs, vitamins, and minerals is the best thing you can do for your body and mind. Eating a nutritious diet can help you stay fit, think clearly and feel more alert.
- Social interaction. Although much harder this year, really try and make a point to stay connected with friends and family. Some examples of staying connected are to make regular FaceTime chats with your kids and grandchildren, use zoom for happy hours with friends, join a virtual book club and even consider writing letters to loved ones like we used to. You can venture outside as well, if you are wearing a mask and staying six feet apart —consider starting a walking club with neighbors or a meet-up with a friend at the dog park once a week. Social interaction, either virtually or in-person, should be considered just as important as diet and exercise when it comes to our health.
Keeping our bodies and minds strong takes work and just like anything else, a little goes a long way! Don’t feel pressured to exercise five days a week or eat perfectly 365 days a year or visit with friends every day. A concerted effort in all areas will help you look and feel better. Visit blogs.ivhp.com for tips on health, lifestyle, Medicare Advantage and living a life full of vitality.