Linking Physical and Mental Health

If you feel well physically you often experience better mental health. You will feel more positive about yourself and your ability to take care of yourself. You often find it easier to sleep, eat healthier and spend time doing things that you enjoy. When you are ill or injured then these basic needs are harder to achieve and then they impact on your mental health as well. For example when you injure yourself you often have pain, difficulty sleeping, restrictions on your activity and movement all of which usually result in a change in how you think, act and feel about yourself. There are many hours of research looking at the relationship between the two and it appears that it’s a two way relationship of causality. Enough of the research though because you guys get enough of that in lectures and tutorials.

There are a few common factors which can help maintain both your physical and mental health:

1. Physical Activity – engage in at least 30 minutes of Physical activity 3 times per week. You can do this all in one session or split it up over the course of the day. If you think about how much walking you do between lectures on campus you are probably already half way if not completely meeting this goal already.

2. Healthy Eating – yes I know what you are thinking “but that ice-cream tastes so good”. Try and stick to regular eating across the day rather than long periods without food and then big binges. Get a balanced meal and make sure there are plenty of fruit and vegetables in your diet. Remember that restricting can be just as dangerous for your health as overeating or eating the wrong foods.

3. Socialising – spend time with friends and family doing things you enjoy. It’s not a good idea to shut friends and family out because you feel all your time should be spent studying. You will get better results if you balance your social commitments with your study load. If you ignore one for the other then your mental health and physical health both suffer and you don’t end up with the results you wanted.

4. Social Support – remember to lean on and ask your friends and family for help. Reach out a little further if you want to get some help from counsellors or other professionals who can help you. This could be as simple as asking a friend for lecture notes from a lecture you missed or getting someone to pick up a book from a library for you.

5. Budgeting – there is never enough money as a student to do the things we want to do. Get some help earlier on to develop a budget that suits your income and try and stick to that. Worrying about money is a large contributor to stress and stress impacts negatively on both your mental and physical health.

These are not the only things you can do to maintain good physical and mental health but they are a good start. If you want more information about the links or want to ask some questions about it then feel free to contact me via email or use the drop-in skype sessions available on Tuesday, Thursdays and Fridays.

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