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Q&A: Mental & physical health

Two women share a laugh while walking outdoors

How your mental state affects physical health

There is a powerful tie between mind and body. Researchers know that unhealthy levels of stress, depression, and anxiety can wreak havoc with your hormones, immune system, heart health, and blood pressure.

Back pain, chest pain, headaches, extreme fatigue, diarrhea, a stiff neck, or a racing heart are just a few of the physical symptoms that can appear when your emotional health is off-kilter. Tending to your emotional health can improve your quality of life. It also may help your body fight infections, recover from an illness, and prevent chronic disease.

Strengthen your mind-body balance by trying the following:

  • Increase your daily physical activity. Exercise changes how the body responds to stress. It improves mood, too.
  • Explore healthy ways to relax. Some people use music, art, prayer, woodworking, reading, or even short walks to lower stress.
  • Express yourself. Negative feelings and fears that are bottled up may flow out as aches and pains. Turn to a trusted friend or seek professional counseling if you feel stuck.

Your doctor can suggest many ways to improve your health and wellness—both mental and physical.