Our physical health affects our mental health, and vice versa

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Being active, enjoying the outdoors and eating a balanced diet all affect how we feel.

It’s important to remember: our physical health affects our mental health, and vice versa. What we do to our bodies makes a big difference to how we feel. Physical activity, diet, alcohol, smoking and drugs can all affect our mental health and wellbeing in different ways. So, let’s talk about them. Physical activity releases feel-good hormones called endorphins, which help us sleep and feel better.

It also improves our physical fitness, which tends to make people feel better in general. Even small amounts of regular physical activity, can improve your mental wellbeing – especially if it’s doing something you enjoy. Physical activity is even a recommended treatment for some types of depression. You can get active at your own pace, in your own way. There’s no need to join a gym or even spend any money. Simple, small changes in our day-to-day can make all the difference.

Taking a brisk walk at lunchtime or walking to get where we’re going, getting active in the garden, or cycling once or twice a week are great options. If there is a type of activity you used to enjoy, think about how you could pick it up again. For example, there are lots of groups in local areas open to all levels of ability. What’s more, studies show that time in green spaces is beneficial, so head to your local park if you can! If you need a little help fitting more physical activity into your day, try the Active 10 app It helps you get short bursts of brisk walking into your day. There’s also the fantastic Couch to 5K app, which will get you up and running in just 9 weeks! Eating better can play a big role in our health and wellbeing.

It won’t come as a surprise to learn that what we eat, and how much, plays a big part in our physical health – which can impact our mental health too. Ideally, we should aim to eat a healthy balanced diet, with plenty of fruit and veg. It’s important to keep an eye on your calories, and minimise foods that are high in sugar, fat and salt. For helpful tips on eating a better diet, check out the One You website.

Alcohol, caffeine, tobacco, and even drugs may seem tempting when we’re stressed or tired. And, when we use them to try and cope the idea of stopping them can feel like it would make things even harder. But they can cause more problems than they solve, especially long-term. All these habits can complicate our sleep patterns, and affect how anxious and depressed we feel.

So try cutting down (or even quitting). And remember that there’s support available. Alcohol in particular can worsen our moods, so cutting down can really help us feel better. For more help cutting down, you can download the Drink Free Days app. And for help cutting back on drugs visit the talk to frank website As for cigarettes, stopping smoking is one of the best things you can do for your body and your brain. You’ll breathe easier, feel better, and save money! Check out NHS.uk/smokefree for advice and support on quitting Whatever you choose to do what’s good for your body is good for your mind.

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