Difference Between Mental Health and Physical Health

By: | Updated: Sep-27, 2023
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Everyone wants to lead a long and happy life. The challenge comes with figuring out how to do that. Some believe that professional pursuits and success can lead to contentment. Others are focused on starting a family and raising children to find happiness. There are plenty of avenues to a satisfying life, and one of them is certainly being healthy.

Health can be either a goal or a state of mind. Every individual may define health differently because there are numerous aspects to it. While the most obvious element of health is usually physical wellness, mental health has quickly closed the gap in terms of importance and public discourse.

Physical and mental health are inextricably linked and can therefore cause a bit of confusion. To clear things up, let’s talk about the differences between physical health and mental health and how you can promote both.

Difference Between Mental Health and Physical Health

What is Physical Health?

Physical health has everything to do with the state of a person’s body. The human body is made up of trillions of cells. Together, these cells form tissue, muscles, bones, and every organ in the body. If you were to observe any part of the body with a microscope, that area would be impacted by physical wellness. 

Though people may define the term health in various ways, it essentially refers to the pursuit of well-being for the physical body. Those who are interested in pursuing physical health take steps to maximize the condition of the various aspects of the physical body. That could mean exercising to strengthen muscles/bones, stretching to improve flexibility, eating right to provide healthy levels of nutrients to cells, or sleeping well to help the body and brain recover each day.

What is Mental Health?

Mental health is separated from the physical aspects of the body, even though it can be easily linked to a person’s physical condition. Mental health refers to a person’s psychological and emotional state. It has everything to do with how a person feels and thinks rather than any physical attributes. 

What makes mental health unique is how it can be supported or harmed. The circumstances of a person’s relationships have a huge impact on mental health. How they view the world and their spirituality can also affect mental wellness. 

The Link Between Physical and Mental Health

As mentioned previously, these two aspects of health are certainly connected even if they have separate definitions. 

Studies show that individuals who invest in their physical health often enjoy benefits to their mental wellness as well. A fitness enthusiast who regularly goes for runs experiences the runner’s high and a release of endorphins that make them feel better, and therefore, happier. A woman who uses face cleanser to hydrate and clean her skin can gain confidence because of the steps she has taken to support skin health. 

Things can also work the other way as well. A person struggling to manage or reduce stress effectively may have trouble keeping off the weight or finding the motivation to exercise. Someone who is depressed may make poor dietary choices. These two aspects of health are deeply linked and anyone who wants to pursue wellness must consider both elements as priorities. 

Action Steps to Support Mental and Physical Health

A healthy lifestyle includes both mental and physical wellness, especially since one can impact the other significantly. 

Practices that can promote better mental health include mediation, keeping a journal, taking breaks from work, socializing with friends and family, engaging in hobbies, exercising, doing breathing exercises, and spending time outside.

If you want to improve the physical condition of your body, then adopt habits like eating balanced foods, getting outside into the sunlight and fresh air, staying active regularly, drinking lots of water, getting seven to eight hours of sleep, taking care of your skin, and practicing good hygiene.

Why Both Matter

Leading a healthy lifestly requires proactive action. While you can certainly wait for health issues to come up and then take preventative measures, it is far more effective to engage in healthy activities from the get go. 

The combination of practices to support both mental and physical health can result in holistic wellness that improves your quality of life. Investing time and energy into improving these areas of your well-being can result in a longer and happier life. As mentioned previously, contentment in life can be achieved in many ways, and prioritizing health is certainly an effective strategy to accomplish that goal. 

Making healthy decisions should always start small. If you try to completely change your lifestyle in one week, chances are you will become overwhelmed and give up on some of your new habits. To give yourself a greater chance of success prioritizing physical and mental health, try adopting just one new practice at a time. If it works and sticks in your routine for a while, then you can add another. Slow adoption will help you adjust to the changes and give you a better shot of supporting physical and mental wellness for the rest of your life.

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