Make the connection – Changing how you think may change how you feel

Maybe this question has been on your mind: Can my mental state affect my physical health?

Doctors have suspected for centuries that there is a powerful tie between mind and body, and modern medical studies prove them right. “Patients often don’t realize that mental health can affect their physical health,” says Riverside family medicine provider Ramanpreet Grewal, MD.

Ramanpreet Grewal, MD
Ramanpreet Grewal, MD

Researchers now 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, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians.

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.

What helps the mind-body balance grow strong?
Thankfully, research has answered that question too.
These top the list:

1. Getting a move on. Exercise changes how the body responds to stress. It improves mood too.
2. Finding healthy ways to relax. Some people use music, art, prayer, woodworking, reading or even 10-minute walks to lower stress in their life.
3. Expressing yourself. Negative feelings and fears that are bottled up may flow out as aches, pains and problems. A trusted friend, partner or religious adviser may be able to help you focus on positives and work through challenges. Some people keep a gratitude journal or write down goals and accomplishments. Professional counseling is advised if you are stuck or feeling overwhelmed.

Finally, remember these words of wisdom: Be honest with your doctor about the stresses and challenges you face. Ask for help if you think you’re feeling depressed. Your doctor can suggest many ways to improve your health and wellness—both mental and physical.

“If you have any concerns about your mental health, bring them up with your primary care provider,” says Dr. Grewal. “We are here to help you and can give you the resources you need.”

Riverside’s Center for Emotional Well-Being, located inside the Atrium at 400 S. Kennedy Drive in Bradley, offers comprehensive outpatient mental health services under one roof. This includes Pathways, group therapy and psychiatric specialists’ offices.

Care right when you need it:
If you or a loved one is in need of immediate mental health assistance, please contact the Riverside Central Intake Department at (844) 442-2551 or visit the Emergency Department at Riverside Medical Center.