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The link between mind and body: tips that can improve your physical and mental health

Written by Benjamin Marshall. 

When discussing mental health its important to remember some of the steps we can take in our everyday life to reduce stress, anxiety, and low mood.

Physical health and mental health are closely linked. While not all mental health issues can be solved with a healthy lifestyle, many people report that a good diet and exercise have helped their mental health improve.

We’re going to explain the link between diet and exercise and mental health, and give some quick tips you can implement in your life which should help with both your physical and mental health.

How diet can impact mental health

Research has shown us that there is a big link between the foods you eat and your mood. Therefore, its important that we know what kind of foods that we should be eating to combat low moods or anxiety.

The reason for the link between your diet and mood is due to our gut being closely connected to the brain through millions of nerves. The guy is sometimes referred to as the “second brain” because of the effect it can have on our mental state. Anyone who has ever noticed they’re more likely to feel angry or irritable when hungry will know this very well.

Fuelling your body correctly can reduce mood swings and avoid crashes and periods of low mood throughout the day. A study found that those who consumed a diet with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes had a 10% less chance of depressive symptoms. A varied diet is therefore crucial to mental health.

Easy ways to improve your diet is to make a rough plan of the meals and snacks that you will have throughout the week. This not only reduces the stress of picking your meals each day but also makes us less likely to order take away meals or have unhealthy snacking throughout the day.

One thing you can do to save time throughout the week whilst eating healthy is to do food prep for the week. By preparing healthy meals during your spare time, you save time after work where you may not have the time or energy to cook a proper meal.

There are plenty of recipes which you can find on the internet no matter what your dietary requirements, so take some time to learn some exciting new meals to cook.

Tips for improving your mental health through diet

Get enough calories

On a diet you still need to eat enough calories. When you don’t eat enough you will feel tired, and it can lead to feeling worse mentally.

Take small steps

Take steps which are manageable with your diet instead of big changes so it can be sustainable in the long term.

Get good advice

Everyone’s body is different so make sure that you don’t just follow trends online, and instead listen to your body or a healthcare professional.

How exercise can improve mental health

Regular exercise is a great way to improve your mental health. Including aerobic exercises within your daily routine such as jogging, cycling, walking, or swimming can improve your mood as it increases blood circulation to your brain, reducing stress or anxiety.

During physical activity, your brain increases the production of your brains feel-good chemicals, endorphins, which boost your mood.

Exercise can also have other knock-on effects in your life which can boost your mood. If you’re struggling with falling asleep at night, doing exercise during the day can be an effective way of tiring yourself out before bedtime. Learn more about why sleep is important for mental health.

Exercise related activities such as team sports can also be a fantastic way to increase your social interactions. Being apart of a team helps boost your mood and can help combat loneliness.

Exercise doesn’t need to be as time consuming as a team sport and can be as simple as a quick walk in the morning or a trip to the gym. As little as thirty minutes of moderate exercise such as brisk walking can improve both your mental and physical health. This includes reduced blood pressure levels, increased energy levels, and an increase in strength, as well as reduced stress and anxiety, and increased confidence.

Tips for improving your mental health through exercise

Keep at it

It’s important to not become demotivated if you miss a day or even a week from an exercise routine. It’s easy to give up, but a week off will have no effect in the long term, so don’t worry about it and pick up your routine when you can.

Don’t overcomplicate things

You don’t need to start doing a sport or going to the gym for two hours a day. Just going for a walk every other day is a fantastic way to get used to a routine. Find something that you find fun as you are more likely to stick with it in the long run.

Remember to rest

Rest is just as important as exercise. Make sure you fuel your body correctly and give your body time to recover after exercise so you don’t hurt yourself.

It’s important to remember that we are all different, and that a healthy lifestyle will look different for all of us. Everyone has different dietary requirements or activity levels, so it may take some time to find out what works for you. However, we can all take small steps each day to improve our physical and mental health, just by starting with a ten minute walk a day.

Our service My Practice, My Health helps people with severe mental health issues get physical health checks.

Learn more ways to improve your mental health.

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Posted on: 29th December 2022

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