Healthy Body in a Healthy Mind: The Importance of Mental Health (and Self Love)
Last updated on : June 03 2020
Healthy Mind And Body
We've all heard the Latin saying: "mens sana in corpore sano." Translated into English, it means "a healthy mind in a healthy body."
But what importance does mental wellbeing have on how we feel physically? Can self-love truly make us look better? Help us achieve higher performance? Make us more successful at our job?
The simple answer is YES.
Self-love and self-compassion are actions we can all benefit from practicing. They help us feel better in our skin and, some would say, they are the key to intentional living.
With a positive mindset, all our actions are focused on achieving the goals we've set out for ourselves. Not so that we can fit into the ideal image society perpetuates, but so that we remain true to our internal system of beliefs.
How Lack of Self-Love Causes Stress & Anxiety
One of the tell-tale signs of being too hard on ourselves is the stress and anxiety we feel when we have set out unattainable goals.
The physical symptoms of anxiety can include nausea, digestive issues, headaches, insomnia, exhaustion, elevated heart rate, muscle tension, and shortness of breath. And when they happen, they can feel completely overwhelming – like there's no way out.
But the best way to beat stress and anxiety is always to turn to their causes.
Unfortunately, we live in a society that puts so much emphasis on performance (in all spheres of life), that, at times, it's almost impossible not to feel like an underachiever.
Have you ever caught yourself thinking that you have to look a certain way? That you have to secure a promotion at work? Or that you need to live up to expectations and must earn a set amount of money / find a partner / wear the right type of clothes / post the right content on social media?
The list of these societal pressures goes on and on. And most often, we're not even aware that we're actively contributing to keeping them relevant.
But, in truth, a little mindfulness goes a long way.
There's nothing as liberating as staying true to ourselves, accepting our shortcomings and actively working to be the best version of ourselves.
So, if you suffer from stress and anxiety, like 18% of the US population, try to adopt the practice of self-love as one of the best ways to combat them.
- Seek out help. Whether you choose to speak to a therapist or a trusted friend, voicing your concerns is one of the absolute best ways to deal with overwhelming emotions.
- Practice mindfulness. Start a journal, take 10 minutes to meditate, or take a long nature walk. These are invaluable opportunities to get in touch with yourself and re-evaluate your current actions and goals.
- Do little things that make you feel good. Take a long hot bath, enroll in a yoga class, or indulge in a cup of herbal tea that relieves stress in your daily routine. Actively seeking out ventures that make you feel good will allow you to focus on the positive aspects of your life instead of the negative ones.
Mental Health & Its Effect on Motivation
According to American psychologist Abraham Maslow, one of the basic human needs includes the desire to achieve self-actualization. These self-actualizing goals can be social, physical, or mental, but they're always dependent on self-discipline and willpower.
However, poor mental health can have a significantly decreasing impact on motivation. Burnout, perfectionism, and depression, in particular, can make us lack the drive we need to start working towards our goals.
So, even if, for example, what we want to do is start working out twice a week, eating healthily, or fit into our favorite pair of jeans again, we might find ourselves self-sabotaging or procrastinating.
But why does this happen?
Well, for one, it might be because we set out a goal that is too advanced for what we can currently achieve. Or, that we're afraid of leaving our comfort zone, knowing how difficult it can be to start exercising after a long break. Or, perhaps, we're questioning our ability to achieve something in the first place?
But the great thing about self-doubt is that it's not impossible to overcome. As long as we're ready to ask ourselves the difficult questions, and dig deeper to find out what it is that truly motivates us, we can achieve everything we truly need to.
So, if you know what you want, but are finding your goals intimidating or are lacking motivation, why not approach the problem from a different angle?
- Ask yourself why your goal is relevant.
- Write down how achieving it will make you feel.
- Feel free to express your fears and doubts, then see whether any of them are unfounded.
- Break your aspirations up into smaller, attainable achievements so that you can work towards them step by step.
- Don't be afraid of being flexible. As we age, our wants and needs will naturally change. There's no such thing as a single right path for anyone. Re-evaluation is, after all, a sign of maturity.
The Connection Between Psychological Wellbeing & Sleep
We are all aware of the importance of sleep, but many Americans are not getting enough of it.
Getting enough Zs at night helps keep our immune system active, prevents chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity, and even slows down cognitive decline in old age.
But, it's also important to note that sleep is closely related to mental health.
Not only are sleep problems more likely to affect those with mental health issues, but even more, practicing better sleep hygiene may be a great way to combat the effects of depression, anxiety, and ADHD. And although there are numerous ways to treat insomnia with supplements and medication, it's an often disregarded fact that it might just stem from stress, anxiety, or poor mental health.
Fortunately, though, for a lot of people, the solution can be quite easy: practicing self-love, being mindful of emotions, and actively working to eliminate stress.
Simple actions like choosing green tea over coffee, doing a digital detox, or focusing on ways to overcome mental health issues are all effective ways to improve sleep quality. And, in turn, they're bound to result in a healthier body as well.
Nutrition & State of Mind
Very much like sleep, nutrition is also closely connected to mental health.
As the two mutually influence one another, it can feel difficult finding the right path towards healthier, wholesome habits. But, fortunately, it's not impossible.
Though we all, inevitably, know what it feels like to crave sugar or a fatty meal after a stressful day at work, it might not be a bad idea to rethink reaching for that chocolate bar or portion of fries.
According to several research studies, the consumption of processed foods can contribute to depression. Even more, sugar, the ingredient we most often crave, has numerous adverse physical effects. Excessive use can cause heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and some experts even go as far as to claim that it causes cancer.
But then again, how can we disregard the fact that comfort foods do a great job at (temporarily) lifting our mood? And is there anything we can do to create a better balance in this area of life?
As always, there is.
The next time you're feeling down and think that a bowl of your favorite ice-cream might just be the medicine you need, consider reaching for a healthier alternative instead.
Go with foods high in vitamin D, rich in healthy fats, and those that will better balance your blood sugar levels. They'll provide the pick-me-up you're after, but will also actively support emotional and physical health so that you can enjoy the best of both worlds.
Body Positivity, Self-Acceptance, and Why They Depend on Emotional Wellbeing
Though it might be difficult to admit, most people associate physical health with a sexy, lean body. And even more worrisome is the fact that the reason people want to lead healthier lifestyles often isn't longevity or improved life quality, but looks.
And yet, we are well aware of the effect body image can have on emotional wellbeing.
Not only can a negative image lead to psychological distress, but it can be a segway into disordered eating that comes with its own set of physical and mental consequences.
And while we still can't completely control how our communities and media approach physical appearance (though we can, and should, express our opinions), there is something we do have control over. And that's how we treat ourselves.
Kindness and self-love, especially when connected to body positivity, are one of the best ways to take care of our mental health. Why beat ourselves down? Why not lift ourselves instead?
- Don't tell yourself anything you wouldn't say to your best friend. Be kind and be supportive. It's much more useful than creating unnecessary pressure to conform to unattainable body standards.
- Try to accept that everybody is beautiful in its way.
- When thinking about your looks, try not to let yourself believe in terms of "good" or "bad" features. Instead, work towards accepting everything about yourself that makes you different. Celebrate your uniqueness instead of encouraging yourself to hide it.
- Try to focus on how you feel instead of how you look.
- Remind yourself frequently that how you look doesn't determine your worth as a human being.
Prioritizing Personal Growth & Self-Love
Before wrapping up, it's important to point out that mental health isn't something that you either have or don't have. Self-love is a process that takes work, effort, dedication, and patience. But at the same time, the kindness, acceptance, and focus on personal growth it allows is one of the healthiest things you can do for yourself – no matter what your goal is.
So if what you want to be is a healthier, happier individual, why not start with taking good care of your psyche?
No matter how you decide to go about it. By improving your nutrition, getting more sleep, meditating, taking a daily supplement, or talking to a therapist. You will find that paying closer attention to what you need, what makes you feel good, and finding ways to love yourself for who you are (and who you can become), is the best way to reach your highest potential in all areas of life.
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