May 2nd, 2014

In honor of May’s Mental Health Month and our strategic priority of integrating mental health and physical healthcare, let’s focus on how we can care for our mind and body to improve our overall wellness. We all know about the importance of taking care of our health – eating right, getting enough sleep, exercising. These healthy habits positively influence both how our body functions and how we feel. Positive health and wellness involves not only caring for our body, but also our mind.

The fact is our mental health is integral to our overall health. Far too many Americans fail to see the correlation, yet these two aspects are inexplicitly intertwined.

When a person’s mental health and wellness is optimal, they can better manage issues that come their way. By contrast, when mental health is more compromised – such as feeling overwhelmed by stress -day-to-day life can become very difficult.

Less than optimal mental health can significantly harm a person’s physical health. Studies show that people who feel depressed or chronically stressed are at a greater risk of physical illnesses. For instance, research demonstrates that stress is closely linked to high blood pressure, heart disease and obesity.

A healthy lifestyle can help ameliorate some of the symptoms of depression, anxiety and other mental health conditions, as well as heart disease, diabetes, obesity and other chronic health problems. It can also help people recover from these conditions.

There are many healthy choices and steps we can adopt to promote and strengthen mental health-and overall health and well-being. These include getting regular exercise, eating right, building social support, recognizing the signs of stress, reaching out for help and support through counseling if needed. Remember one in four Americans will experience a significant mental health challenge. There should be no shame associated with seeking care in any realm of building health including mental health.

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