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Five reasons mental health is as important as physical health

A lady doing a yoga pose to improve her mental health

Here are five reasons why looking after your mental health is just as important as looking after your physical health.

Guest article by Ellie Carr, Prevention Services Manager at Lifeline WA and Mental Health Nurse

There is often a distinction made between mind and body, as if the two are not connected. However, the truth is just the opposite; your physical health and emotional wellbeing are intrinsically linked. It is not uncommon to think that 'it’s just a bit of stress' or be too embarrassed to tell your GP that you have felt 'a bit down in the dumps' for a while. However, if it were a medical problem, you wouldn't wait for it to resolve itself.

Here are five reasons why looking after your mental health is just as important as looking after your physical health.

1. Better physical wellbeing

Mental and physical health are more connected than not, and it’s almost impossible to treat one without affecting the other. Depression has been linked to a 67% increased risk of death from heart disease, and a 50% increased risk of death from cancer. The next time you go for a physical health check, check in with yourself and ask how am I feeling? Your GP can refer you to appropriate mental health services.

2. Improved coping skills

Life has many challenges and looking after your mental health can mean that you are more able to problem solve when life throws you a curve ball. Dealing with the loss of a loved one, loss of a job or a family pet can trigger a downward spiral. Before you hit your next bump in the road, ask yourself who your go-to person to lean on is during tough times. Do you know where to find help if you hit an emotional rough patch?

3. Combat stress hormones

The stress hormone cortisol can actually reduce the impact of exercise and inhibit your body’s ability to create ‘feel good’ hormones like serotonin. Trade in a high energy workout for a stroll in your local park and connect with your surroundings, or if you’re an indoors type, try a yoga class or book a massage. This will reduce your cortisol and increase your good feels.

4. Connection

Being mentally healthy helps you stay connected with others. It is a cycle. Being connected socially is good for our emotional wellbeing; humans are social creatures. Whether you are an introvert or an extrovert, we still need that human connection and a sense of belonging, which in turn is good for our mental health. 

5. Make smarter decisions

Taking care of your whole self will mean that you have more energy and are less tired, leaving more time to enjoy life.

For more information about staying mentally health in the community, talk to your GP or visit lifelinewa.org.au/Get-Help/Asking-For-Help.

If you are in crisis, call Lifeline on 13 11 14, available 24/7.

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