Can My Mental Health Affect My Body? | MyHealthy Decisions

In this Health & Wellness issue of MyHealthy Decisions, learn more about how nature, telemedicine, mindfulness, and lifestyle simplifications can improve your physical and mental health.

Start Feeling like Yourself Again

Maybe this question has been on your mind: Can my mental state affect my physical health? The answer is yes.

For centuries, doctors have suspected that there is a powerful tie between mind and body, and modern medical studies prove them right. Researchers now know unhealthy levels of stress, depression and anxiety can wreak havoc with your hormones, immune system, heart health and blood pressure.

Back pain, chest pain, headaches, extreme fatigue, diarrhea, a stiff neck or a racing heart are just a few of the physical symptoms that can appear when your emotional health is off-kilter, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians.

James Anderson, PhD, DSRIP Medical Director, Behavioral Health and Integrated Services
James Anderson, PhD, DSRIP Medical Director, Behavioral Health and Integrated Services

Tending to your emotional health can improve your quality of life. It also may help your body fight infections, recover from an illness, and prevent chronic disease.

“Taking care of mental health is as important as managing other areas of wellness,” says James Anderson, PhD, clinical psychologist and Bassett’s Delivery System Reform Incentive Payment Program medical director, Behavioral Health and Integrated Services. “When you take care of your mental health, it not only improves your overall well-being, but improves the health of others who love you as well.”

Finally, remember these words of wisdom: Be honest with your doctor about the stresses and challenges you face. Ask for help if you think you’re feeling depressed. Your doctor can suggest many ways to improve your health and wellness — both mental and physical.

Find Your Balance

What helps the mind-body balance grow strong? Thankfully, research has answered that question too. These top the list:

  • Finding healthy ways to relax. Some people use music, art, prayer, woodworking, reading or even 10-minute walks to lower stress in their lives.
  • Getting a move on. Exercise changes how the body responds to stress. It also improves mood.
  • Expressing yourself. Negative feelings and fears that are bottled up may flow out as aches, pains and problems. A trusted friend, partner or spiritual adviser may be able to help you focus on the positives and work through challenges. Some people keep a gratitude journal or write down goals and accomplishments. Professional counseling is advised if you are stuck or feeling overwhelmed.