How mental health affect physical health

“As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he”.

I first heard this phrase from my eldest brother. It was stated in response to someone who called him a fool. Though I did not fully grasp its deep meaning then, the passage of time has surely revealed it to me. Each time it is proven I reflect on the deep truth it contains.

We all act in tandem with our thoughts. So Let’s take a look at how our mental health affects our physical health.

A healthy brain

Let me say from the outset that I will not be dealing much here with the organ but that which the organ facilitates.

It is our brain that generates, processes and stores our thoughts. Some may argue with that but that is how I understand it. While our brain is a physical organ, our thoughts can only be known when we act upon them. A healthy brain into which good habits are fed, leads to a healthy concept of life and therefore beneficial output. If on the other hand, bad habits are introduced, then the effects on the individual, his family, friends and the society will be negative.

We learn via our senses. Some learning is voluntary but the majority involuntary. So that what I see, hear, smell, touch and taste are all stored in my brain. Whatever is often repeated becomes habit and go to form my character. If I grow up or reside in a community where the healthy lifestyle is emphasized, then most likely, I will value it too. My approach to health would be different to the person who lives in a less health conscious environment.

If I think healthy, most likely I will do that which is needful for me to live health. I reason then, that my mentality towards health will determine what I do in order to be healthy.

What are your thoughts?

When I take time to think about my thoughts on health I realize that I rate health as highly important. After all, who wants to be walking around feeling ill every day? No one. Those who are ill do all in their power to overcome their illness as soon as possible.

There’s a saying in my country – Trinidad and Tobago – that goes like this; “prevention is better than cure”. Maybe you know it too. So if my thoughts are that it is better to prevent illness than to cure it, then my first question would be, “how can I go about preventing myself and those I love from becoming ill?” Then I seek to implement the measures that are needful to keep myself in health. It does not guarantee that I will never get sick but it greatly decreases the possibility.

Now, what if in spite of all my preventative methods I still become ill, what do I do? Again my thoughts would determine my response. Should I seek out the physician right away or do I know of effective home remedies that I can use? A positive approach/mindset to health or recovering health goes a long way in deciding whether or not I am healthy.

Ignorance as to how my mental health affects my physical health can see result in me taking some decisions that may prove detrimental to my health.

Careefully consider the alternatives

If I believe that how I treat my body matters, then I will eat only that which will provide me with good nutrients, use water inside and out in adequate proportions, exercise regularly, carefully enjoy exposure to sunlight, seek out fresh air as often as possible, get the needed rest and do all these temperately. Not forgetting to trust in God for all things.

Principle versus feelings

I googled the meaning of the word principle and received the following definition:

1.a fundamental truth or proposition that serves as the foundation for a system of belief or behavior or for a chain of reasoning.

2. a general scientific theorem or law that has numerous special applications across a wide field.

Principles are important in life. We can depend on anything that is based on principle. Life has thought me that whenever I deviate from principle and act on feelings the outcome is most times not what I was hoping for. When I base my feelings on principle however, I most times end up with something unexpected but better than I had set out to get.

Some years ago I began getting up at 5am to exercise. I cannot recall just how long that lasted, a few weeks I guess. Then one morning when I woke up it was raining. I decided not to go out into the rain and missed about three days. When I went back out, some senior ladies who usually walked every morning also and had noted my absence welcomed me back.

I wish that I could say that I have continued to walk every morning since then. No, I have not. The rains came again and again I did not go out and I haven’t since. Reason? I did not feel like getting up so early again. I forgot that the principle that I was working with was that exercise (walking) would greatly contribute to my overall health. My feelings were allowed to over ride the principle that walking is beneficial for my well-being.

This and other experiences have taught me to evaluate my feelings based on principle or fact, to not blame others or circumstances for my decisions. Thoughts affect feelings, feelings not carefully considered may result in poor decisions which negatively affect us and others. Since we are looking at health, negative feelings can adversely affect our health.

As an aside, I have often been told and said to others – and I would like to think that you have had a similar experience or said it yourself – “you make me feel this way”. Now keeping in mind what was said above, if the thought comes to me to make that statement, or someone makes it to me, my response is “really, and how did I accomplish that?” Of course the answer is that what I said or did was the cause.

Evaluation of my thoughts on the particular issue however, reveals that it was the thoughts I had concerning the issue that really resulted in my feelings. Someone else having same experience, who bases his feelings on an evaluation of the facts would behave differently and I dare say more positively.

Turning ideas into action

Going back to my example of how my good thoughts had led me to take those early morning walks; it is always necessary for us to turn our good ideas into something substantial – in this case having a healthy mind to have physical health. Walking was a good idea, I allowed negative thoughts and circumstances to lead me to feel that it was okay to stop since the rain was falling. I lost out on the physical and mental benefits.

As I write, I am thinking that I should have identified alternatives to going out whenever it rained. I did not. Until repetition of action becomes behavior, conscious decision has to be taken to do what has been decided should be done. Once the connection of neurons have become an established electronic pathway in our brain, continuing the act becomes almost automatic.

Begin at your pace

Finally

Our thought become our actions unless we make a conscious decision to not translate one into the other. Choosing to be healthy and acting upon it demonstrates how mental health affect physical health. What we feed into our minds leads to our behavior after we have processed the information.

Feelings can play a crucial role in our physical health if we allow it to control what, when, why and how we do things without questioning our emotions first. So our impressions, though strong, should be evaluated before we take that final step. Then acting on the ideas we have formulated can bring the dreamed of results.

Think about it.

 

A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones. Proverbs 17:22

Please feel free to let me know what you think about the above article. If you have any questions, go ahead, ask them. I will respond to them as soon as I can.