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Take Care of Your Mental Health To Recover from Illness

When it comes to taking care of your body, eating right and exercise are crucial. But equally important is how well you care for your mental health and well-being – especially when it comes to recovering from an illness. 

Physical health, mental health and personal well-being might seem like separate concepts, but they are actually interconnected and can positively or negatively influence each other. 

Three Pillars of Being Human 

Physical health, mental health and personal well-being make up the “three pillars of being human” – the success of one of the pillars means the other two have a better chance of success, too. 

●  Physical health means being free from illness or injury and relates to how acute or chronic issues affect our daily life. Maintaining regular physical activity prevents heart disease, stroke, diabetes and many forms of cancer. Keeping our bodies in shape also helps us with movement and keeps bones, joints and muscles strong. 

●      Mental health includes our emotional and psychological well-being, and it affects how we think, feel and act. It determines how we handle stress, relate to others and make choices. The presence of symptoms that cause emotional distress can impair these abilities. 

●      Personal well-being, or wellness, involves our sense of fulfillment and encompasses such issues as self-esteem, values and community. It is what adds to our sense of purpose and quality of life. 

What’s the Connection? 

Some intersections for these three concepts include: 

●      Predisposition to certain illnesses

●      Lifestyle choices

●      Genetics

●      Engagement with your support system

 But when looking at how these overlaps can affect recovery from illness, there are many connections: 

●      How your mental health and wellness affects physical health. Several medical studies show how the state of your mental health may result in prolonged, chronic physical conditions, as well as delays in healing and recovery. 

For example, dealing with depression or stress can not only lead to an avoidance of seeking medical care but negatively impact your body’s normal immune response, making it harder to fight off infection. 

Stress also influences your gastrointestinal system, reducing your body’s ability to absorb nutrients and process food, and can elevate your heart rate and blood pressure. 

●      How your physical health affects mental health and well-being. When dealing with chronic health issues, anxiety and exhaustion take a toll on your mental state, but the relationship is not that simple. 

Your physical health can also affect your diet and lifestyle choices, your connection to social groups and even feelings of safety and security. Changes in the inflammatory and endocrine systems can upset your body’s central nervous system, increasing risk for psychiatric problems. 

●      Personal well-being’s influence on physical and mental health. Your overall well-being can have a direct effect on your emotional resiliency. People with strong support networks, healthy habits and spiritual connections tend to adhere to medical recommendations and treatment plans, which improves recovery and survival rates. 

What Steps Can You Take? 

Because of their interconnectedness, enriching any of these components will deliver a positive impact to all three of them. 

For example, by treating depression or sleep difficulties you might feel more rested and optimistic, which then results in more dinners with friends or increased enthusiasm at work. Addressing a physical issue such as diabetes, could lead to improved exercise habits such as walking, which not only helps you drop extra pounds but delivers a social outlet and a boost of mood improving endorphins. And never underestimate the power of community or spiritual support as you battle an illness such as cancer. 

In short, we humans are a complex bunch. We think, love, move, age and connect, both internally and externally. When injured, draw upon the resources of the whole to aid — and speed — your recovery.

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