Taking Care of Your Mental Health to Achieve Your Personal Physical Health Goals
Your mental and physical health are closely related. If your physical health is suffering, you’re more likely to have conditions like anxiety and depression. Likewise, if you are struggling with a mental health issue, you may find that your sleep suffers and your desire to take healthy actions wane.
This is particularly important for women, as the World Health Organization reports that women are twice as likely to suffer from depression than men and are more likely to face anxiety and psychological distress than men.
However, what many people don’t realize is that positive mental health can actually help you achieve your physical health goals, as higher self-esteem is associated with better physical health.
So, here are a few ways taking care of your mental health helps you achieve your personal physical health goals.
Building Self Esteem
Self-esteem is a pivotal component of your mental and physical health. Self-esteem is generally defined as the way we think about ourselves, and people with healthy self-esteem can accurately assess themselves while maintaining the belief that they are good, worthwhile people.
Building your own self-esteem is difficult — particularly if you’ve struggled with low self-esteem for a long time. The American Psychological Association has also found that women are more likely to have low self-esteem and that this is “likely the result of specific cultural influences that guide self-esteem development in men and women”. The key is to cut out the influences which detract from your self-esteem and to reach out to a trusted friend, family member, or even medical professional who can help you break the cycle of poor self-esteem.
Over time, focusing on building your self-esteem will help you value yourself more, and you’ll find it easier to challenge that inner voice that attempts to undermine you. Eventually, this will bolster your efforts to improve your physical health, as you will be exercising for the right reasons instead of feeling guilty.
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Good sleep is one of the most important contributing factors to good physical and mental health. Researchers find that sleep impacts your mood, cognition, and ability to pay attention. They also find that sleep disorders can increase your chances of physical illnesses and disease, as many who suffer from insomnia have multiple comorbidities.
Improving the amount and quality of sleep you get is challenging. We all know that we should get between 8-10 hours of sleep a night, yet 35% of Americans do not get enough sleep.
To overcome a strained relationship with sleep, you should cut out digital distractions at least an hour before you go to bed, and can replace them with relaxing activities like reading a book, drawing, or taking a long shower. These activities will calm your brain and will help you switch off.
Sometimes life is just too busy for us to “switch off” and we can’t spare even 15 minutes to complete behaviors that are good for our mental health. If you find yourself in this situation, you should seriously consider adjusting your current work-life balance and should intentionally plan breaks from the stress of work life.
Before you start scheduling your next week of work, plan 15-minute breaks into every day — then treat them as sacrosanct. A 15-minute break can give you a chance to help manage the stress and anxiety you feel during the workday. This boosts your overall mental health and gives you a chance to complete activities like mindfulness and deep breathing exercises.
Sometimes we need more than a 15-minute break to help manage the stress of work. If you find yourself feeling this way, you should take a vacation if possible. Research by the American Psychological Association (APA) finds that even a short vacation can boost your mental health and improve your productivity — it will also give you time and energy to organize your physical health regime
The stigma around seeing therapists and mental health professionals is, thankfully, dissolving. However, there are so many different types of therapists to choose from, which means getting help can be a complicated process.
In general, there are five different kinds of psychologists. However, you’ll likely be working with a clinical psychologist who specializes in a particular approach to mental-health therapy. Finding the right course of therapy for you is entirely contextual, but you will likely attend physical or remote sessions where a therapist helps you become more aware of inaccurate or negative patterns of thought.
Seeing a therapist can be daunting, but you have nothing to be ashamed of — you’re taking a proactive approach to bettering your mental health, and should find comfort in the knowledge that therapy works.
Unfortunately, taking care of your mental health can be expensive. This is why women from low socio-economic status backgrounds suffer more from mental health issues and are unable to get the help they need.
Paying for your healthcare can be tricky, but you should start by building a health savings account (HSA). An HSA allows you to contribute pre-tax dollars towards a savings account which you will later use to pay for medical expenses. The IRS allows you to save up to $3,600 for treatment for self-only coverage and $7,200 for family coverage.
Withdrawing from an HSA is straightforward and tax-free — you just have to ensure that you are withdrawing for an eligible expense or you will incur a 20% penalty.
By prioritizing your mental health you improve your chances of achieving your personal physical health goals. You should lean on support systems to build your self-esteem, and can utilize an HSA to ensure financial insecurities don’t derail your health efforts.
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Amanda Winstead is a writer from the Portland area with a background in communications and a passion for telling stories. Along with writing she enjoys traveling, reading, working out, and going to concerts. If you want to follow her writing journey, or even just say hi you can find her on Twitter.
NOTE: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of Nannocare. Nannocare is not affiliated, associated, authorized, endorsed by, or in any way officially connected with the author of this article, or any of its subsidiaries or its affiliates.