Understanding the Link Between Emotional and Physical Health and Taking Control of Both
We all understand that there are two main components to our health: the emotional and the physical. In order to live a balanced and healthy lifestyle, we need to focus on both these individual aspects and give them each equal attention.
But while we all understand that this is the case, relatively few of us understand just how deep the connection between our emotional and physical health runs. If you are someone who has struggled with their emotional or physical health during their lives, or both, learning how the interplay between the two works can help you to develop your own personal coping strategies and take control of your health in a way that wouldn’t have been possible before.
Managing your physical health is relatively straightforward. Our bodies are pretty good at letting us know when there is a problem and giving us the warning that we need to respond to it. When we detect a physical problem, we visit the doctor for a diagnosis and so they can prescribe the appropriate treatment. However, managing our emotional health is considerably more complicated than this for a number of reasons.
This article contains the information and advice you need to take control of your physical and emotional health. It is also a useful resource for nurses and patients and can help patients understand the interplay between their emotional and physical health. For nurses who are studying DNP programs online, this article will hopefully help you to understand the role that senior nurses have to play in maintaining their patient’s emotional and physical health.
There are so many misunderstandings and faulty assumptions when it comes to our mental health. Because of these, we are, as a society, much worse at identifying potential mental health issues and, when we do identify an issue, we are much less likely to seek out the help that we need. One of the more common misunderstandings about mental health is the belief that all mental health conditions are chronic. In other words, many people think that those people who suffer from mental illnesses will develop an illness during adolescence or adulthood and then persist for the rest of their lives.
There are certainly a large number of mental illnesses that are chronic and for many people with a mental illness, their condition is something that will be with them for their entire lives. But that doesn’t mean that all mental health conditions are long-term. In fact, some people suffer from severe episodes of psychosis, possibly triggered by trauma or stress, but will never suffer another episode for the rest of their lives. Conversely, some people who suffer from mild depression may have the condition for their whole lives without it ever significantly disrupting it.
A transient or acute episode of mental illness is usually triggered by a significant event in the sufferers’ life that causes a great deal of stress or trauma. We all react differently to trauma and other significant events in our lives, events that will crush some people might barely register with others. Everyone has different fears and anxieties, and these will affect the kind of events that are likely to trigger a severe response in us.
Some of us are lucky enough to work jobs that we genuinely enjoy and care about. But most of us in such an enviable position have worked regular jobs in the past, jobs that we took up because they were the least bad, or sometimes only, employment option available to us. Most people have experience in working jobs that they enjoyed and jobs that they didn’t; there are numerous ways that these experiences differ from one another.
With regards to our mental health, obviously losing a job that you care about is going to be more serious than losing one that you don’t care for much. But even if you aren’t crazy about your job, losing your job can introduce serious stress into your life. Similarly, any conflict at work that makes your job harder or more stressful can impact your mental health.
It is easy for relatively minor work issues to spiral out of control and snowball into something disproportionate. If you notice that your job is becoming more stressful, it is important to ensure that it doesn’t encroach on your mental health. If the added stress is temporary, then powering through it can help you to learn some valuable coping strategies. However, if this stress is prolonged then you need to consider whether it is worth it for you or not.
Having a Baby
For both the mother and father, having a child is a truly amazing time. However, pregnancy, childbirth, and parenthood are certainly not stress-free experiences. For many women, their journey to motherhood begins long before pregnancy and every stage of the process from planning to have a child to conceiving to giving birth can be scary or difficult for a variety of reasons. Lots of new and expectant parents, women, in particular, feel an enormous social pressure to be relentlessly positive about the experience.
This can lead to numerous problems for both the mother and father and is not healthy for either of them. Fluctuating moods are a normal part of pregnancy for women, but if an expectant mother is suffering from a low mood for a prolonged period of time, it is important to consult with their doctor. It is equally important that new mothers and those around them pay close attention to their emotional health.
Postpartum depression is a serious condition. Depression is always something that should be taken seriously, but there are several reasons why it is particularly concerning in new mothers. For one thing, most people who suffer from a mental illness of any description will be acutely aware of the stigmas that exist around mental illness. However, new mothers feel an additional level of stigma and a much greater pressure to be happy than most. Many women feel that postpartum depression is a character weakness or an indication that they are failing as a mother.
Of course, postpartum depression is never the mother’s fault and is absolutely not an indicator that they don’t love their child. However, severe postpartum depression can lead to mothers harming newborns, although this is rare.
Grief and Loss
Death is an inevitable part of life. Not only do we have our own deaths to look forward to but also the deaths of everyone we know. There’s not much you can do about this – sooner or later we all have to face the consequences of losing someone that matters to us. Of course, it is only natural to feel unhappy when dealing with grief and loss. However, many people still feel that they are under enormous pressure to not allow their grief to show.
The death of a family member or partner can leave many people reeling and feeling hopelessly alone. This, in turn, can prompt people to bottle up their feelings out of fear of isolating themselves from others. If you know someone who is dealing with their own loss, any support you can provide them is valuable. If you are the one undergoing grief or loss, speak to those around you and seek professional help. Left untreated, the effects of grief can fester until they evolve into something more serious.
How to Improve Your Emotional Health
Changing your attitude towards your emotional health and how you express it can make a big difference to your ability to handle stressful periods in your life. Just as most of us, even those who are perfectly healthy, could do more to sustain our good physical health, so too could most of us develop a much healthier attitude towards our mental health. In fact, there are a number of simple techniques that anyone can learn that will make a considerable difference to your general health.
Express Yourself Appropriately
We have the capacity to feel negative emotions like sadness, fear, and anxiety for a good reason. Without these emotions to guide us, we wouldn’t know how to interact with other people or how to decide what to do on a daily basis. When we try to fight or hide from all our negative emotions, we often end up making ourselves suffer more than we need to. It is much better to learn how to let these emotions out in a controlled manner.
Everyone sometimes needs the support of friends and family. You don’t need to tell someone every single time you feel something negative, but if you are finding that negative emotions are recurring and affecting your life, you should always speak to someone.
Learn to Calm Yourself
There are a variety of relaxation techniques that you can learn with ease. For example, mindfulness is very popular right now, and with good reason. Mindfulness follows the same principles as meditation, albeit without the spiritual or religious dimension to it. Mindfulness is about being in the moment and aware of your mind and body. You can find some excellent mindfulness guides for beginners online that will get you started. There aren’t many techniques out there that are as effective as mindfulness. It takes time to learn mindfulness, but it is by far the best general technique for managing your emotional health.
We began with emotional health because it is emotional health that most people struggle to manage. However, some people are in a position where both their physical and emotional health is in a bad state. For people in this position, it can be difficult to know where to start in order to improve their health, it becomes a chicken and egg kind of situation.
The good news is that it doesn’t really matter which side of things you tackle first. Ideally, you should tackle them both together. However, anything you can do to improve your emotional health will make it much easier for you to work on your physical health. Similarly, if your physical health starts to improve then you will notice a positive impact on your emotional health.
Getting enough exercise to make a real difference to your health is much more achievable than many people realize. Lots of people are laboring under the misapprehension that they need to put in a significant amount of time and effort in order to improve their physical health. In actual fact, the amount of exercise needed to improve our health is something that the majority of us can meet.
If you are able to walk for just 20 minutes every day, that is enough to make a difference. Any amount of exercise is better than no exercise. Once you start trying to fit as much exercise into your day as possible, you will realize just how many opportunities for exercising there really are in every day.
Diet and exercise are the two most important components of physical health. Just like getting enough exercise is more achievable than many people realize, it is also considerably easier to maintain a balanced diet than you might think. You don’t need to get obsessive about every meal, but you should make an effort to ensure that your diet is balanced and well-rounded.
Remember – your emotions are ultimately the result of physical processes in your brain. Differing levels of hormones and neurotransmitters will lead to different emotional states. This is why a well-rounded diet is so important for good mental health. Those all-important hormones and neurotransmitters are synthesized in your body from substances called essential amino acids. These compounds are, well, essential to our health. However, your body can’t make them from endogenous chemicals, it needs compounds from the food you eat.
If you aren’t eating enough of the right foods, your body won’t have the building blocks it needs to build the chemicals that regulate your feelings and emotions. This is why a poor diet can lead to such poor emotional health outcomes.
Once you understand the link between your emotional and physical health, it becomes much easier to take control of both of them. If you neglect either component of your health, the other will suffer.