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A Package Deal:  Physical and Mental Health

Taylor Smith – CHOP5 Wellness & Nutrition Blogger

“Take care of your health!” ——I’m sure most of you have heard similar phrases countless times in your life.  We’ve heard it so many times because it’s so important.  Being healthy allows you to live a longer and more fulfilled life.  However, many people only associate “health” with the physical aspect.  They are either unaware of or neglect the mental component of health.  But, taking care of both your physical AND mental health is vital and makes up total health.

So, what’s the difference between physical and mental health?

Physical Health vs. Mental Health:

Mental health includes our emotional, psychological and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others and make choices.

Physical health represents one dimension of total well-being. The term refers to the state of your physical body and how well it’s operating.  Another definition for physical health includes the ability to perform daily tasks and live comfortably in one’s body’.

Now that you understand the difference between physical and mental health, let’s talk about various ways that we can take care of ourselves both physically and mentally!

Ways to Prioritize PHYSICAL Health:

  • Exercise/move your body regularly
  • Get enough hours of sleep each night
  • Drink lots of water throughout the day
  • Eat a balanced diet (CHOP5 salads & bowls are definitely part of mine!)
  • Take care of yourself when you are sick—recharge, take medicine
  • Incorporate rest/recovery days into your week
  • Allow your body to recover if it’s hurt/do physical therapy
  • Help your body to recover after a workout—stretch, foam roll, massage, hot & cold contrast, massage gun (I have a Hypervolt), Normatec recovery boots, heating pad
  • Take a fun workout class (invite a friend if you’d like!)
  • Try a new activity (I recently tried a boxing class!)
  • Take care of your skin (creams/lotions, face masks, sunscreen)
  • Limit your alcohol intake
  • Don’t do drugs
  • Don’t skip meals or restrict food—honor your cravings & everything in moderation!
  • Protect your eyes—wear sunscreen & hats, don’t stare at screens for too long
  • Get your immunizations
  • Practice good hygiene
  • Push yourself in your workouts
  • Do resistance training
  • Take vitamins
  • Wash your hands

Ways to Prioritize MENTAL Health:

  • Daily self-care—take time for you (things that make you happy/your body needs)
  • Take a rest day if your body needs one
  • Take a day off (or extended time) from school/work/sports if you need to
  • Get a massage/special sports massage
  • Meditate
  • Talk to a therapist
  • Tell your loved ones/trusted people how you feel mentally—talking it out can help
  • Get a facial/have a spa day
  • Surround yourself with genuine people who make you feel seen & loved (no toxic people allowed!)
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help or inform people of what’s going through your head!
  • Get your nails or hair done
  • Buy something you love
  • Yoga
  • Take deep breaths & remind yourself that you will figure it out/be okay!
  • Journal your thoughts/feelings
  • Take prescribed medication if you need to (talk to your doctor)
  • Go on walks, hikes, visit cool places in nature
  • Hang with friends & family— social time is crucial
  • Read a good book
  • Make time for your favorite hobbies
  • Eat your favorite food
  • Listen to music or a podcast
  • Treat yourself to a dessert you love!
  • Watch a good movie or get lost in a tv show
  • Color (adult coloring books are my new favorite—so calming!)
  • Have a balanced life in all aspects (make time for school/work, fitness, social, you-time, etc.)
  • Be mindful in what you commit to (don’t put too much on your plate)
  • Organize your room
  • Take fun pictures
  • Say no to things you’re not up for
  • Get dressed up (take pictures if you want)—feel confident!
  • Plan a fun night out or a cozy night in!
  • Relax
  • Interrupt negative self-talk

Hopefully you can make intentions to implement at least a couple of ways listed above to take care of both your physical and mental health!

Physical health and mental health go hand in hand.  I believe that you cannot call yourself “healthy” if you neglect one or the other. 

Personal Example:

For example, if I don’t feel my best mentally, then I usually don’t perform well in lacrosse.  I often feel tired and not like my best self physically as well.  On the other hand, if my physical health is lacking, it impacts how I feel mentally because I don’t feel good, which decreases my confidence and happiness.

Important Reminder:

Remember, just as you would take care of yourself or make changes if you are hurt or have high blood pressure, you must take care of yourself if you are feeling off mentally.  Just because someone can’t visually see something wrong with you (like a broken leg or high blood pressure measurement), does not mean that there is not something wrong.  You must know yourself and advocate for your mental health, even though it may not be visible.  Mental health matters more than society has led people to believe in the past.  It makes the world of difference, so please prioritize it as much as you should your physical health. They are a package deal!

I encourage you to take all this knowledge and use it to better yourself and your life!

New Year’s Intentions Update:

One of my intentions is to be adventurous and explore beautiful places in my state.  I always felt like I have plenty of time and will do it eventually, but I’ve realized that ‘eventually’ turns into never.  One of my goals this month was to make time for exploring and to take advantage of the breathtaking nature around me in Colorado!  One of my favorite places is Lost Gulch Lookout on Flagstaff Mountain in Boulder!  It’s an unreal view in general, but especially during sunset.