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Verified by Psychology Today

Strategies for Physical and Mental Health Awareness

Addressing the relationship between psychological and physiological health.

Key points

  • Our mental health can either make us vulnerable to disease or protect us from it. Likewise, our physical health can affect our minds.
  • Because mental and physical health are related, we must address them equally.
  • Ways to take care of your physical and mental health simultaneously include adequate, restful sleep and exercise.

Each year during May, organizations, and individuals across the globe join the movement to raise awareness about mental health as they celebrate Mental Health Awareness Month.

We can all join the fight against stigma by educating ourselves on mental illnesses. Furthermore, we can use this time to reflect on the importance of adopting practices that support our mental health and those close to us. Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, mental health professionals have seen a rise in rates of conditions such as depression, anxiety, social isolation, and substance use. This phenomenon has been described as the COVID-19 mental health crisis, with experts warning us that the pandemic’s effect may be long-lasting.

Therefore, we should strive to practice mental health awareness all year long, and we can begin with ourselves at home. However, first, we must recognize that mental health goes hand-in-hand with physical health. Our psychological well-being can either make us vulnerable to diseases or be a protective factor from chronic conditions. Likewise, our physiological well-being can have either a positive or negative impact on our mental health. Due to the interrelationship between psychological and physiological well-being, our mental and physical health are equally important.

Understanding this connection can help us identify strategies that support both our physiological and psychological well-being. The following are some accessible practices for taking care of our physical and mental health during these challenging times.

ljubaphoto, Pixabay
Source: ljubaphoto, Pixabay

Getting enough sleep

When it comes to sleep, it is not just about the quantity (i.e., the hours we sleep) but also the quality (i.e., waking up and feeling rested). Sleep helps us recharge both our body and mind. When we do not get enough sleep, we are more likely to experience fatigue, changes in mood, depression, and anxiety. Feeling tired can also make us less likely to exercise and socialize. Poor sleepers are also at higher risk of developing chronic diseases than people who get enough sleep. Additionally, getting enough rest can improve your immune response, meaning that your body is more likely to fight off infections.

Staying active

Exercise has many benefits for both our physical and mental health. During physical activity, our brain releases endorphins, also known as feel-good chemicals, that help us feel energized and alert. Exercising can also help alleviate current symptoms, such as low mood and anxiety, and chronic diseases. We do not need to perform intense exercises for extended amounts of time to experience the benefits of physical activity. Research has shown that simple activities, such as going out for a 10-minute walk or practicing yoga at home, can benefit both our physical and mental health. The most important thing is to try to stay active and perform exercises we consider enjoyable.

PeopleImages, iStock
Source: PeopleImages, iStock

Practicing self-care

Each person has different preferences and, therefore, a distinctive idea of what self-care activities they enjoy and find relaxing. Nevertheless, the concept of self-care involves practicing activities that are amusing, calm, and help us unwind from all the responsibilities and stressors faced daily. Some examples of self-care include reading a book for leisure, watching a movie or show, singing or dancing, and cooking a favorite dish. Psychological health includes having fun, meaning that we must make time for joyful and entertaining activities that help us decompress for us to be in a healthy mental state.

As we continue to learn more about the pandemic's impact on our mental health, we need to adopt measures that promote our well-being. Let's strive to practice mental health awareness all year long, as well as monitor our overall physical and psychological well-being.

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