4 Daily Mental Health Habits That Impact Physical Health
There are several activities that you can take part in to improve your mental health. However, did you know that doing many of these things also has a considerable impact on your physical health? That’s because the two go hand in hand, since poor mental health can have adverse effects on your physical body.
Examples of those effects are increased risk for cancer, heart disease, and respiratory disease. Conversely, the below mental health habits can have a tremendously positive effect on your physical health.
Seek out something funny. Try a hilarious book, an entertaining sitcom, or a comedic movie. Laughter provides so many benefits, both mentally and physically. For example, it diminishes the sensation of all types of pain; in a way, it serves as an aspirin of sorts. It also naturally boosts your mood, and it improves your immune system, helping your body stave off potential disease.
Laughter also serves to lighten your burdens. Stress increases your blood pressure, which is hard on your heart. When you feel less stress, your heart doesn’t have to work as hard. Laughing also serves to relax your entire body; this is great as physical tension can leave your muscles far more susceptible to various injuries.
Laughing can even serve as a workout regimen. You may not be ready to run a marathon, but the simple act of laughing for 10-15 minutes a day will burn approximately 40 calories. If you do this regularly, you’d lose roughly 3-4 pounds a year from laughing alone.
2. Reduce Social Media Use
The effects of social media are damaging to mental health. Frequent use leads to lower self-esteem, disconnect from others, and shorter attention spans. However, there are also a number of ways in which increased social media use can decrease the state of your physical health.
One of these is decreased sleep quantity and quality. Many users are on their phones right up to the moment when they fall asleep. This results in the brain still actively processing information, which delays the onset of sleep and prevents as deep a sleep as would otherwise be possible. Also, the light from your phone screen suppresses the release of melatonin, which contributes to not feeling as sleepy as you should.
Social media use also contributes to having a sedentary lifestyle, which increases risks of heart disease and related illnesses. Not to mention increased instances of “text neck.” “Text neck” is the neck pain associated with looking down at your phone too long.
3. Increase Time Outdoors
Being outdoors has been shown to decrease levels of anxiety and depression and improve self-esteem and mood. The presence of water in the outdoor setting has been shown to enhance those benefits. However, the benefits are not just mentally focused.
Spending time outdoors has been shown to lower blood pressure, which results in fewer heart attacks. A related benefit is the lowering of participants’ pulse rates. Time outdoors also tends to decrease inflammation rates, which results in decreased instances of disorders like inflammatory bowel disease. Additionally, anti-cancer proteins are believed to be stimulated when people spend increasing amounts of time in natural settings.
One other benefit to consider is improved sight. It’s believed that this activity reduces the risk of nearsightedness, at least in children. Plus, any time spent away from screens is a positive for eye health as screen time has been shown to contribute to eye dryness, blurry vision and eyestrain.
Meditation has been shown to have a tremendous effect on mental health as it improves relaxation levels and reduces how much stress a person is experiencing. However, the benefits don’t stop there.
One physical benefit of meditation is that it helps battle and overcome a variety of addictions. Practicing individuals are able to redirect their focus towards the act of meditation and away from the addictions they were struggling with. Meditation has been shown to help people control addiction-related cravings for things like food, alcohol, drugs and gambling.
Engaging in meditation has also been shown to decrease blood pressure levels, strengthening the individual’s heart in the process. Even focusing on a one-word mantra has been determined to reduce blood pressure by roughly five points.
Meditation can also reduce your perception of pain. Those who regularly meditate experience greater activity in the parts of the brain related to pain control.