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How taking care of your mind can help take care of your body (and vice versa)


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Imagine it’s a stunning morning. The calm ocean glints with sunlight, stirred by a light breeze. You can almost taste the salty sea as you admire the beautiful seascape. You paddle out on your kayak, feeling the stress of the previous week slip away. You feel strong, fit and at peace with the world.

A few hours later, when you hoist your kayak onto the roof of your car, you feel a sharp pain in your lower back. And it gets worse.

In the coming weeks, you’re given various diagnoses for your back pain and you do your best to follow the advice you receive. But you certainly don’t feel strong and fit anymore. You can’t exercise, you find yourself snacking more often and your jeans now feel tighter than they used to.

You’re sick of being in pain, you’re not sleeping well and you keep snapping at the people you love. Worse still, you’ve lost your usual outlet for stress. Where can you find your sense of calm and wellbeing now that you can’t get out onto the water?

The inextricable link between physical and mental health

We tend to talk about physical and mental health as if they’re two separate things. In fact, they’re intertwined.

In the example above, our kayaker benefited from the physical exertion of their sport, building their aerobic fitness, strength and flexibility. That exercise released feel-good hormones called endorphins which helped to boost their mood. It also relieved stress and contributed to maintaining a healthy weight and getting a good night’s sleep.

When they sustained an injury and were no longer able to kayak, they experienced not only physical consequences (pain and weight gain) but also a decline in their mental wellbeing.

In that example, a physical difficulty had consequences for the person’s mental health. It works the other ways too – mental health conditions can worsen physical health.

When you feel anxious, depressed and lacking in energy, it’s harder to look after your body properly. You may not have the capacity to make yourself exercise, eat well, moderate your alcohol consumption or avoid smoking. You may also be taking medications with side effects that cause physical health problems.

Let’s now look at some of the most important ways to care for your mental and physical wellbeing, remembering that they reinforce each other.

Taking care of your mind

Even if you haven’t been officially diagnosed with depression or anxiety, you might be feeling flatter than usual at the moment.

There’s been a lot of doom and gloom around with the resurgence of COVID, rising interest rates and ludicrously expensive lettuce. Health risks and financial worries can definitely get you down. They can also lead to overwork and burnout.

Taking care of your mental wellbeing under those circumstances may involve:

  • Cutting back on social media: It’s fun for a while but saps time that could be spent on other things. It can make you feel worse about yourself when your feed is full of other people’s (carefully curated) happy snaps.
  • Limit your news exposure: When the news is constantly depressing, then remember you don’t always need to know it. It’s helpful to be informed so that you can take appropriate action but you don’t need to doomscroll relentlessly. Set a time limit.
  • Soak up some sunshine: We’re blessed with a lot of blue sky and sunshine in Australia. Get yourself outside each day to enjoy it. You might sit in the garden or go for a walk in the park.
  • Deliberately notice the good stuff: Spend some time each day paying deliberate attention to the good things in your life. You might be grateful for a particular person, a piece of good news, a pet’s silly antics or the beauty of nature.
  • Nurture your relationships: Family and friends are vitally important. Make the effort to call a friend, arrange a catch-up or send an SMS to stay connected.
  • Recognise your limits: None of us can do it all. Sometimes, you need to change the situation you’re in, learn how to say ‘no’ or lower people’s expectations of you. That’s OK – it’s far better to make changes now, even if they’re difficult, than to end up dealing with burnout.

Taking care of your body

Your body will thank you for:

  • Eating a healthy diet: Whole grains, berries, legumes, fish and many other foods contain mood-boosting nutrients. In contrast, too much alcohol, caffeine, refined carbs and sugary foods can worsen symptoms of anxiety.
  • Move your body: Your body wasn’t built to slump on the sofa all day. Movement is good for you. You don’t have to run a marathon but you will benefit from getting up and moving regularly. Do what you can – depending on your health and fitness, you could start with seated exercises or a short walk and build up from there.
  • Sleep: Good sleep refreshes your body and helps you function well. If you’re struggling to sleep, then try these tips for better sleep hygiene.

How can we help?

Getting the right support is an important way to nurture your mental and physical health.

If you’re struggling with your mental health, talk to your GP in the first instance.

If you’ve hurt your back, have ongoing neck pain or are dealing with another musculoskeletal issue, then please contact Cannon Hill Family Chiropractic Centre. We’d love to help you get stronger.




All information is general and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice.Cannon Hill Family Chiropractic Centre can consult with you to confirm if a particular treatment or procedure is right for you.


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