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How Does Your Physical Health Affect Your Mental Health?

Welcome to our Mood-E Blog

Rebeckah Atkinson

Written by Rebeckah Atkinson, BS

Rebeckah is currently an intern and under the supervision of Kayce Bragg, LPCS (# 8061), LAC #369

Rebeckah Atkinson, BS  is a resident of West Columbia, South Carolina. She received her B.S. in Psychology from Coastal Carolina University in Conway, South Carolina in December 2018, and she is currently completing her M.A. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at Webster University (Columbia, SC). She is on track to graduate in the Spring of 2024. 

Rebeckah believes that coming to therapy is a powerful step in the healing process. She aspires to create an open, empathetic, culturally sensitive environment in which clients can express their mental health or life concerns in a judgement free environment. She employs an integrative, trauma-informed approach to counseling that includes person-centered, cognitive-behavioral, and family systems therapy techniques. Rebeckah works with individuals, children, couples, and families.

How Does Your Physical Health Affect Your Mental Health?

physical health

Physical health and mental health are closely interconnected, and one’s physical well-being can have an immense impact on their mental health. A healthy body is essential for a healthy mind. Good physical health supports mental health by promoting vitality, energy, and a positive mood, while poor physical health can lead to depression and anxiety. 

The Role of Exercise in Mental Well-being


Physical activity plays a crucial role in maintaining good health, both physically and mentally. Regular exercise helps to reduce stress, improve self-esteem, and enhance cognitive function. Physical exercise releases endorphins, which are natural chemicals that create a feeling of happiness and euphoria. When we engage in physical activity, our body produces more serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter that regulates mood, appetite, and sleep. Serotonin deficiency is a common cause of depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders. In contrast, a sedentary lifestyle can have negative effects on mental health. Try doing things such as going for a walk in your neighborhood, attending a yoga class, signing up for a gym membership and actually using it, going for a hike by yourself or with a loved one. Being physically active does not have to be hard, get creative, make it an adventure!

The Negative Effects of a Sedentary Lifestyle


Sedentary behavior has been linked to an increased risk of depression, anxiety, and cognitive decline. People who spend most of their day sitting are more likely to feel low, lethargic, and unproductive. This is because sitting for prolonged periods reduces the flow of oxygen and blood to the brain, leading to cognitive impairment and mood changes. 

The Importance of a Healthy Diet


Another factor that affects physical and mental health is diet. Eating a balanced, nutritious diet is essential for overall health and well-being. Food is fuel for the body, and the nutrients we consume provide us with energy, boost our immune system, and support cognitive function. A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats can help prevent chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and obesity, which are known risk factors for depression and anxiety. 

On the other hand, a diet high in sugar, processed foods, and unhealthy fats can lead to weight gain, inflammation, and insulin resistance. These factors can lead to increased risk of depression and anxiety. For example, research shows that a diet high in sugar and processed foods increases the risk of developing depression and anxiety by up to 50%. 

A good rule to follow is to never go grocery shopping when you are hungry. When you are hungry, you are more likely to buy the satisfying, unhealthy options, rather than the health conscious options. Eating a healthy and well balanced meal can be challenging. Create a meal plan for the week, go grocery shopping for the week based on what you need for your pre-planned meals, and stay away from the candy aisle! When you are a parent, it is hard to find healthy meals that your children enjoy, but it is possible. There are so many resources out there for parents with picky children. Do some research, and find recipes that are a good balance to appease everyone at the table. Using a meal plan will also save you money and time in the long run. Do not feel defeated if you do not succeed in the beginning. Meal planning and prep takes practice. You will figure it out and be grateful in the end that you stuck with it!

Sleep’s Role in Physical and Mental Health


Sleep is another critical aspect of physical and mental health. Getting enough quality sleep is essential for restoring energy, repairing the body, and supporting cognitive function. Sleep deprivation can impair memory, concentration, and decision-making skills. It can also lead to irritability, mood swings, and decreased motivation. 

Studies have shown that people who experience poor quality sleep are at a higher risk of developing depression and anxiety. If you are someone who struggles with sleep issues, create a bedtime routine. Here are some examples:

  1. Turn off all electronics at least 30 minutes prior to your bedtime. Use that time to do something relaxing. 
  2. Read a book, listen to calming music, take a relaxing bath, any activity that calms the body and mind. 
  3. If you struggle to sleep due to racing thoughts, use a journal to put those thoughts down on paper. This helps get all the noise out of your head and onto paper. Journaling is a very powerful tool to soothe the racing and busy mind. 

There are so many resources, such as apps, music, and many other options that help get your body and mind ready to sleep. Do some research and find something that works best for you. We are only as mentally rested as we are physically rested.

Establishing Routines for Physical and Mental Health


Your physical health has a significant impact on mental health. Our bodies and minds are interconnected, and taking care of one supports the other. Engaging in regular physical activity, eating a balanced diet, getting enough quality sleep, and avoiding smoking and excessive drinking are all essential for maintaining good overall health.

Establishing routines can be a major benefit to our mental and physical health. It will help you stay on track with your tasks throughout the day, improve your time management skills, help with falling asleep faster and waking up more refreshed, and lessens the anxiety you may have by knowing what to expect out of your day.  By prioritizing our physical health, we can improve our mental health and lead happier, healthier lives. We should all strive to be our best self, inside and out. Make yourself a priority, because if you do not, who will?

  • What can you do to improve your physical health?
  • How do you think you can improve your mental health using certain physical activities?
  • What are your goals now that you are aware of the impact of your physical health on your mental health?
  • What are some ways you can implement a routine into your daily life to improve your physical and mental health?
  • Challenge yourself by keeping track of your progress from week to week or month to month, in order to see what impact the changes you made really had on your overall health!
physical health

If you, or know of someone who could use some online counseling to feel heard and learn ways to cope, please connect with one of our therapists today for a free consultation.


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