Humans cannot do without stress.
Stress is an integral part of your body’s survival mechanism, but nowadays it’s mostly linked to harmful outcomes. However, the natural stress response is what helps you to run away from a threat or push yourself harder to reach a goal. But, if your mind is under constant duress, if you’re always looking to fight-or-flight, this is detrimental to your overall health.
According to WHO’s World Mental Health Report, 1 in 8 people in the world live with a mental health condition. Sadly, countries allocate less than 2% of their health expenditure, on average, towards mental health.
Here’s how your mental state relates to your overall health, and why maintaining it is a top priority.
The shrouded mind-body connection
Your mind and body are tightly bound, which means your physical state affects your mental health and vice versa.
For example: a physical injury that results in a loss of a skill, such as reduced mobility, can lead to anxiety and poor mental health; nicotine smoke reduces the natural production of dopamine, the feel-good chemical; poor sleep can affect your concentration, productivity and even self-esteem. Moreover, underlying physical health issues, not as evident as an injury or sleep deprivation, can impair your mental state too. These can include fatty acid imbalance, low-grade inflammation, high cholesterol, and anemia to name a few.
On the other hand, your mental wellbeing directly affects your physical health. For instance, long-term activation of stress can lead to headaches, digestive issues, muscle tension, heart disease, weight gain, sleep deprivation and lack of focus. It can also lead to depression and anxiety, two of the most common mental health conditions experienced by people around the world.
Your ability to cope with challenging mental states is shaped by your genetic makeup and life experiences. But, there are ways you can build up your stress response capabilities.