May 19, 2024

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Why You Should Take Care of Your Body and Health

8 min read

Taking care of your physical body is good for your mental health. The mind and body interact and influence one another in complex ways. Physical illness can make managing your mental well-being more difficult. Stress, lack of energy, poor sleep, and other problems can also take a toll on how you feel mentally.

This article discusses why you should take care of your body and how it can support your mental health. It also explores what you can do to take better care of yourself.

Why Taking Care of Your Body is Good for Mental Health

There are a number of reasons why taking care of your body is good for your mental health:

  • Health problems affect functioning: Health problems, even minor ones, can interfere with or even overshadow other aspects of your life. Even relatively minor health issues such as aches, pains, lethargy, and indigestion take a toll on your happiness and stress levels.
  • Poor health habits can add stress to your life: They also play a role in how well you are able to cope with stress. The stress that comes from poor health is significant.
  • Poor health interferes with daily living: Health challenges also affect other areas of your life. Health problems can make daily tasks more challenging, create financial stress, and even jeopardize your ability to earn a living.
  • Stress can worsen health: Stress itself can exacerbate health issues from the common cold to more serious conditions and diseases, so maintaining healthy habits can pay off in the long run. This article looks at some healthy habits that have a positive impact on your life.

One way to improve your ability to cope with stress and feel better is to make a commitment to healthier habits.

Press Play for Advice On Creating Good Habits

This episode of The Verywell Mind Podcast, featuring Katy Milkman, PhD, shares how to build healthy habits to create lasting change. Click below to listen now.

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Eat a Balanced Diet for the Right Reasons

Rather than eating right solely for the promise of looking better in your jeans, you should also make a commitment to eating foods that will boost your energy levels and keep your system running smoothly. This is because what you eat can not only impact your short-term and long-term health, it can affect your stress levels.

It’s much harder to cope with stress if you are hungry or malnourished. Hunger can make you more emotionally reactive to stressors, leaving you irritable or even angry in the face of minor daily annoyances. Watching what you eat can be a stress management tool as well as a health preserver.

Another reason it’s a good idea to maintain a healthy diet is that your diet can have an effect on your mood.

While the effects of an unhealthy diet are cumulative and become more apparent in the long-term, you are also less likely to feel well in the short-term if you are eating a diet heavy on sugar-laden, fatty, or nutritionally empty foods.

Some of the more immediate effects poor diet include feeling:

  • Lethargic
  • Jittery
  • Moody
  • Fatigued
  • Hungry
  • Weak

Eating well has important long-term consequences, but it may also help you feel more energetic and optimistic in the short-term as well.

Stay Motivated

If you remind yourself that what you eat now will affect how you feel in the coming hours, it may be easier to stick to a healthy diet.

Make Sleep a Priority

Sleep can have a serious impact on your overall health and well-being. Poor sleep can take a toll on mental health and contribute to problems including anxiety, depression, mood changes, and behavior changes.

Make a commitment to get enough sleep at night. If you haven’t gotten adequate sleep, you may be less productive, less mentally sharp, and otherwise more prone to the effects of stress.

Some good habits that can help:

  • Try to get a full eight hours of sleep each night
  • Avoid caffeine after 2 pm
  • Avoid eating foods in the evening that might disrupt your sleep
  • Go to bed at the same time each night; wake up at the same time each morning
  • Create a restful sleep environment; make sure your bed is comfortable and keep the room at an optimal temperature for sleeping (between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit)
  • Adopt a calming technique such as meditation to help yourself relax each night before bed

You may be surprised by how much less stressed you feel when you’re not tired. Following good strategies can help if you have trouble getting quality sleep when stressed. Not only will you sleep better, but you’ll feel better all day.

Find a Fitness Habit That Works for You

We’ve all heard the advice to eat right and exercise. However, it can be difficult to fit in workouts around a busy schedule, particularly when you’re feeling exhausted from stress. 

Make It a Habit

One effective strategy for making fitness a regular part of your life is to build an exercise habit around your other habits—either attach a workout to your morning routine, or your lunchtime habits, or make it a regular part of your evening. 

If you make a morning jog part of your getting-ready-for-work routine, for example, it is much more likely to happen than if you wait until you feel like jogging and happen to have a free half-hour, especially if you lead a busy life like most of us and are tired at the end of the day. 

Do Something You Enjoy

Another important way to make exercise easier is to choose an activity that you actually enjoy. Some examples include walking while listening to an audiobook or attending a class at your gym where good music drives up your energy level. Finding an activity that you enjoy means that you are more likely to stick with it.

Find a form of exercise that you’d like to do and then find a time when you can make it work with your schedule.

Watch What You Put Into Your Body

Avoid putting unhealthy substances into your body; nicotine, excess alcohol, and even excessive caffeine can take a toll on your health in the long run, but also make you feel lousy overall in your day-to-day life.

In addition to watching what you put into your body, it also helps if you can avoid allowing toxic thinking patterns from exacerbating your stress levels as well. Find healthier ways to manage stress, and you’ll enjoy double health and stress management benefits.

Find Ways to Manage Your Stress

Stress is an inevitable part of life, but it can take a serious toll on your mind and body if it gets out of hand. Excessive stress is linked to a number of serious health ailments, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, and ulcers.

Stress management strategies that can help include:

  • Practicing mindfulness: Mindfulness is an approach that involves focusing more on the here and now instead of fretting over the past or future. It can help increase your self-awareness and improve your ability to handle the daily challenges life throws your way.
  • Utilize stress management techniques: Incorporate a variety of stress management tactics into your life, such as deep breathing, guided imagery, and positive self-talk. Making these a habit can help you combat stress in the short-term, as well as later down the road.
  • Eat a balanced diet: A poor diet can exacerbate the negative effects of stress. Instead of reaching for high-sugar snacks or fast food meals, focused on following a balanced diet that incorporates fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, and complex carbohydrates. 

Finding ways to manage your stress effectively can minimize the negative impact on your health. It can also be beneficial for your emotional health and reduce your risk of burnout, anxiety, and depression.

A Word From Verywell

These are three important ways to take care of your body that you may not naturally think of as stress relievers. If you set goals to make these ideas a reality in your life, not only will you feel the difference immediately, but you will also see results in multiple areas of your life in the coming weeks and months. Few habits come without effort, but these three can make a significant impact on your life, and are well worth the effort.

Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  8. Kriakous SA, Elliott KA, Lamers C, Owen R. The effectiveness of mindfulness-based stress reduction on the psychological functioning of healthcare professionals: a systematic review. Mindfulness (N Y). 2021;12(1):1-28. doi:10.1007/s12671-020-01500-9

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By Elizabeth Scott, PhD

Elizabeth Scott, PhD is an author, workshop leader, educator, and award-winning blogger on stress management, positive psychology, relationships, and emotional wellbeing.


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