The link between mental and physical well-being is becoming more and more apparent.
That fact is undeniable.
And we all know of that one person who is so stressed, either at home or at work or usually both, that their go to snack is a bottle of antacid. While the facts are there it can sometimes be hard to grasp the depths of influence the mind has over the body.
However, a vast amount of research is accumulating which shows that your physical health is directly linked with your mental health, as well as the other way around.
How Stress Affects the Body
While the mind affects the body in a variety of ways, one of the most studied examples of this is with depression.
It’s very apparent that depression leads to suicide but its physical effects don’t stop there. Cardiologists have noted that there seems to be a definite relationship between depression and the overall health of your heart.
It is relatively common for those who have undergone heart bypass surgery to become depressed after the operation and those patients that do become depressed seem to be at a higher risk for being readmitted to the hospital. There are various diseases that seem to worsen with depression or stress in general such as diabetes, epilepsy, osteoporosis and even cancer.
Stress as a significant risk factor regarding your overall health can no longer be ignored.
Starts in the Brain
A number of different parts of the brain seem to get agitated when a threat is detected.
Areas of the brain that get activated are your hypothalamus, amygdala, and pituitary gland. These parts of your brain communicate with one another in order to prepare a signal to the hormones and nerves to initiate a “fight or flight” response.
The adrenal glands receive this message and release an onslaught of adrenaline.
This, in turns, makes your heart pump faster and your lungs to work harder so that the body is flooded with oxygen. Nerve cells in turn release norepinephrine, which makes the muscles tense and your senses sharp and ready for action.
When the perceived threat subsides epinephrine and norepinephrine levels do drop.
However, when this happens too often you run the risk of damaging your arteries. Chronic stress can keep glucocorticoids constantly working, which in turn leads a weakened immune system.
With consequences like this there is no denying the importance of reducing stress.
Stress and happiness
Research has come a long way since the days of Freud on how to maintain optimal mood levels.
Here are two factors that you can control to help you remain positive, happy, and reduce your stress levels…
There has been a staggering amount of evidence to suggest that what you eat affects how you think.
A survey conducted by the University of Otago in New Zealand has shown that participants who ate a diet with more fruits and vegetables seem to report a more positive mood. The research is not complete but the link seems to be there.
One thing seems to be key in the diet of happier people is Omega-3 fatty acids found in fatty fish.
The National Institutes of Health has shown that countries where fish is not a regular part of the diet have a 65 time higher rate of depression than their fish eating counterparts.
Regular physical activity is one of the best ways to combat stress and depression.
Exercise leads to a fitter body, which in turn tends to lead to higher self-esteem there by bettering your mood. Exercise also has a biochemical element to it by releasing endorphins, which trigger a positive feeling in the body as well as having an analgesic element.
This can also help to diminish pain.
The brain is just like any other organ so it makes sense that it would affect the rest of the body. Scientists are still beginning to understand all the different ways this organ works and how to better take care of it.
All this will in turn lead to a happier, healthier you.