When looking at your mental health from an objective viewpoint (as difficult as that might be), you want to make sure that you get the whole picture. Keeping your focus on the mental and emotional causes of stress and anxiety can help you identify points you need to work with. But we can’t neglect the mind-body connection.
Often the issues troubling our emotional health can have physical roots, if not some influence from our physical health. We’re going to look at three common physical conditions or states that have deep impacts on how we think or feel.
Stress and Stress Hormones
In my early 20s, I was deep in an unhealthy relationship. It was my first adult relationship and my longest relationship to date. I knew things were not “perfect”. However, I never realized until later how much I really suppressed my stress.
Dealing with the everyday struggles of my bad relationship while coping with the fact that my father recently passed away suddenly, I thought I was doing well for my circumstances.
Until one morning, I woke up to half of my face paralyzed.
Scared and uncertain of what was happening to me, I called my mom. She was my moral support as we went to the doctor. Then as the doctor sent us straight over to ER.
The doctor who saw me in the ER was very short with us. And when I say very, I mean he literally said, “You can Google it” after throwing out my diagnosis in medical terms. My mom and I shot each other a look. Then she turned back to reply to him with, “Just humor us.”
I had Bell’s Palsy. You can Google it. Just kidding. Bell’s Palsy happened when the facial nerve gets inflamed and gets pinched against the skull. This causes muscle weakness in one side of the face, much like a Stroke. However, I learned that day that one can still lift their eyebrow after a stroke. With Bells Palsy, you can not.
So, we asked about what the causes are. No one could give us a straight answer, except it was most likely caused by…. You guessed it, stress!
I literally stressed part of my body into paralysis. You have got to be kidding me.
Stress is the most common mental health condition amongst the population and it’s not difficult to see why. Hectic work lives, economic anxieties, and the pressures of society are far and wide.
But the pressure also comes from hormones in the body, specifically cortisol, which can be influenced by a wide variety of physical habits. The most dangerous of them all is a lack of sleep. Unwinding and getting a full night’s sleep helps regulate those hormones. Exercise also helps balance hormones like serotonin that not only encourage a better night’s sleep but can fight the effects of stress.
A crisis of confidence
Anxiety is often caused by low self-esteem and self-confidence. While these issues can have their roots much more deeply, there is no denying that body image plays a big role in this issue.
Factors like a lack of confidence in your smile because you hate your teeth or trouble dressing how you want because of stretch marks can exacerbate these issues. Starting a proactive care plan with a dentist and looking into skin creams to treat the surface level can actually make some impact on the deeper issues.
They aren’t enough, by themselves, and finding out reasons to be confident and recognizing your achievements and positive points is essential to developing a sense of confidence that isn’t undermined by the next blemish or the next stumbling block.
Fit feels good
All in all, there are few things better for your emotional state than exercise. It is one of the best ways to improve mental health because it works in a variety of ways. As mentioned, it helps you get a better night’s sleep and reduces the impact of cortisol-induced stress.
The production of endorphins creates a workout “high”. That feeling of happiness will positively impact your mood for the rest of the day. Endorphins help you maintain the sense of confidence. You feel good about being an active participant in your own health and well-being. You are also able to see and feel the difference you have made in your own body.
Of course, the physical isn’t always the root of mental and emotional health issues. Look at everything as part of a larger picture. This allows you to start making enough changes to skew things in your favor.
Do you see how your body has played a big role in your mental and emotional state? Leave a comment below.