The Mental and Physical Health Connection: 13 Reasons Why It’s Important

Header image to illustrate the mental and physical health connection. The words "mind" and "body" written in the sand.
Photo Credit: Pesky Monkey, Getty Images

The World Health Organization (“WHO”) said, “There is no health without mental health”. COVID-19 has made us all too aware of the importance of good physical health since those with pre-existing conditions are less likely to survive the dreaded virus. These days, very few people dispute that there is a mental and physical health connection. Trying to figure out if your mental health impacts your physical health or vice versa is kind of like the question of the chicken and the egg.

The truth is, they both impact each other, in a kind of spiral. It can be a vicious cycle that drags you down or an uplifting cycle that builds you up. The mental and physical health connection is so deep that it is virtually impossible to separate them. Both positive and negative actions have a cumulative effect on our overall health. This is a double-edged sword, as negative changes can amplify quickly, but so can positive ones. In both cases, a little can go a long way

13 Reasons Why You Should Pay Attention to the Mental and Physical Health Connection

1. Because 1 in 3 people with a chronic physical health problem also has a mental health problem, according to FrederickHealth.org.

2. Poor mental health is linked to physical ailments such as diabetes, asthma, cancer, cardiovascular disease, arthritis, respiratory disease, sleep disorders, headaches, fatigue, digestive problems, and upset stomach. Those with serious mental health conditions have a greater risk of chronic physical conditions.

3. On the other hand, chronic physical health conditions are connected to poor mental health. One of these is psoriasis. Sufferers of psoriasis have a higher risk for depression, sleep disorders like insomnia, and anxiety.

4. Understanding the mental and physical health connection is key to supporting those with these conditions and reducing the frequency of coexisting conditions.

5. Web MD claims that “positive psychological well-being can reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke“.

6. For those with mental health conditions, the mortality rate for cancer and heart disease is higher.

7. Mental health disorders increase the likelihood of sleep disorders by a scary amount. 50-80% of people with a mental health condition have a sleep disorder. Only 10-18% of the general population have sleep issues. 🤯

8. Smoking (especially chain-smoking) and other addictions are more common for those with mental health diseases. This might be due to the brain not creating enough dopamine. Nicotine and other drugs offer a brief dose of dopamine to the starved brain, but it is short-lived. The fix has to be repeated, often. Enter addiction.

9. Both mental and physical health diseases can result in insomnia, restlessness, difficulty concentrating, and lack of interest in things, people, or places that once brought joy.

10. A mental health condition can make it less likely to diagnose a physical issue for several reasons. The most obvious is that the symptoms of physical and mental health issues often overlap. You or your doctor may believe your headaches are a symptom of your depression and anxiety, for example, and not realize that there is a growth putting pressure on the brain stem. That actually happened to a friend of mine, one of the ones no longer with us. (I lover you forever, Momo ❤‍🩹)

Some other reasons that physical issues can be missed due to mental issues are:

  • When you are suffering from mental health issues, it is SUPER difficult to ask for help or schedule yourself a doctor’s appointment.
  • Motivation is low, so low that even basic self-care can become difficult to nearly impossible.
  • There may be a lack of support from your family and even your doctor to make positive changes like exercising or improving your diet as they may think that the condition makes it impossible for you. Ouch!
  • Less likely to have regular check-ups and take initiative to have symptoms thoroughly investigated and not excused away.

11. Two of the key aspects of overall health (according to the WHO) are related to physical health – regular physical activity and eating nutritious foods. Both of these physical health habits impact your mental health.

12. Two of the key aspects of overall health (according to the WHO) are related to mental health – adequate income and social inclusion/support. Both of these measures of mental health also impact your physical health.

and the 13th and most important reason:

13. Studies show that the more healthy lifestyle choices you make, the lower your mental distress rate will be. Wow!

If you think about it, it all comes down to balance. There is ease to balance, once it’s achieved. Look closely at the word disease. Dis – ease. To not be at ease. The mental and physical health connection is very real, and it’s all about finding your balance.

Ways to Balance Your Mental and Physical Health Connection

1. Schedule a doctor’s appointment and keep it. Speak up about your symptoms and make sure both mental and physical causes are investigated. You are your best advocate.

2. Get some exercise and consume vitamins and minerals.

3. Find a social support system whether it’s family, friends, a church group, a therapist, or all of the above!

4. Subscribe to my blog for weekly tips sent straight to your email on anything and everything to help you find your balance. Use that link I just gave you to subscribe and you’ll get a bonus FREE playlist of over 3 hours of (not explicit) music to help you improve your mood even if you’re having a terrible, no good, very bad day. It’s full of up-tempo beats and motivating lyrics. I literally dance in my desk chair as I type when I put it on! It’s possible I might be listening to it now 😉

I hope you found this blog post helpful. If you did, please LIKE, COMMENT, and/or SHARE! Your feedback helps me provide better content. 🙂

Until Next Time,

Your Favorite Basic B

Image of Basic B Finds Balance Author Dee A. Rowe and her husband
My husband and I minding our mental and physical health connection on a recent vacation

Want more posts on minding your mental garden? Try:

How To Use Your Breath To Stop Anxiety In Its Tracks or 9 Simple Shifts to Create a Life You Don’t Need to Escape From

Source Material:

https://ontario.cmha.ca/documents/connection-between-mental-and-physical-health/#:~:text=The%20associations%20between%20mental%20and,of%20developing%20poor%20mental%20health

https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/how-does-mental-health-affect-physical-health

https://www.frederickhealth.org/news/2021/october/the-connection-between-mental-and-physical-healt/

https://www.sondermind.com › resources › the-connecti…”

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