The Connection Between Your Mental Health and Physical Health

For the past few weeks, I’ve been really tired. Like REALLY tired. I found myself falling asleep on the couch after work – going to bed at 8:30 – coming home in the middle of the day to take naps… It seemed like no matter how much sleep I got, I still felt exhausted. 

I began wondering if something weird was going on. Was I sick? Was I pregnant? Did I have COVID and my only symptom was intense fatigue? 

If you’re a follower of my blog, you’ll notice that in the past three weeks, I haven’t published anything. Not only that, I really didn’t write anything at all those few weeks – not drafts, not personal journaling or anything. I normally try to get up early to have quiet devotional time and to write, but even though I set my alarm to get up early (and had gone to bed at a reasonable hour), I still woke up every day feeling tired and hit the snooze button.

What was going on? 

I have this sweatshirt I purchased recently that says “Mental health is health.” I love it not only because it’s cute and comfortable, but because of the message it broadcasts. Mental health affects our physical health. They are so intricately connected that to really be in a state of health at all, our mental health must be cared for. 

It only takes doing a quick Google search to get thousands of results on the link between mental health and physical health. One of the results I found was from the Hillside Mental Health Facility’s blog, and it described some of the warning signs that a person’s mental health may be negatively shifting, which included:

  • Changes in sleeping and eating patterns
  • Withdrawal from friends, family and activities
  • Loss of energy
  • Increasing irritability and mood swings
  • Loss of performance at school or work

Looking back, I realize now that I was also losing motivation at work, and having increased irritability with members of my family. Basically, I was exhibiting most of these warning signs. 

I should have noticed more of the red flags. I know from past experience that when I’m stressed or overwhelmed, (or when depression might be kicking in), I tend to cope by sleeping. Some people can’t sleep when they’re anxious or stressed, but I tend to start checking out and want to sleep all of the time. 

In the book Try Softer by Aundi Kolber, (one of my top recommended books!) she describes the idea of your “window of tolerance” (WOT). She is referring to our ability to tolerate discomfort, specifically emotional discomfort. All of us have an amount of emotional discomfort or growing pains that we can tolerate – this is our “just right” amount where we won’t be at risk of becoming overwhelmed emotionally and physiologically. But once we hit our limits, we can either go into hyperarousal or hypoarousal. 

Hyperarousal mode feels like being overwhelmed with adrenaline or anger. You are out of control. You may feel the need to be moving (trying to flee whatever stressful event you are experiencing).

Hypoarousal mode causes a person to feel sluggish or depressed. You become disconnected from the world. In a word, numb. 

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Would You Eat Salmon Every Day for Clear Skin?

***Check out my follow-up post (written 3 months later) here!***

I’ve had really bad acne in the past – it was so bad that when I was a teenager, I had to go on Accutane because nothing else would clear it up. I don’t think I have (or at least I didn’t keep) many pictures of myself during that time because I was so ashamed of the way I looked. Thank goodness smart phones were not a thing back then!

As an (almost) 34-year-old, one might assume that my days of dealing with acne are behind me. Not true! Unfortunately, I still deal with breakouts a lot. Normally it is a minor annoyance, a few here and there that most people probably wouldn’t notice all that much.

The past few weeks however, my skin just exploded! I was getting at least 3-4 pimples a day, and many of them were large inflamed ones. Everything I tried seemed futile. I cut out gluten, sugar and dairy from my diet (which often seems to help), I was using a skin-clearing mask nightly, I tried to make sure I was drinking plenty of water… but the breakouts kept coming in full force.

If you’ve ever had bad acne, you understand that feeling of fear, of feeling like your skin is not in your control anymore. You feel helpless, and it’s one of the worst feelings in the world. And if you’re like me, you also feel really ugly – I think due to my past struggles with acne, my skin condition really affects how I view myself – whether I feel good or bad, pretty or ugly…

I was desperate and didn’t know what else to do, so I turned to my trusty Clear Skin Prescription book by Nicholas Perricone. Maybe you’ve heard of the “Perricone diet?” Nicholas Perricone has written numberous books about anti-inflammatory diets that are supposed to be anti-aging and help you get clear, beautiful skin.

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30 (more like 20) Pushups a Day (more like every few days) for a Month

My current foot situation (in a boot, not full weight-bearing) has obviously prevented me from running or working out very much at all. I finally decided that I should challenge myself to do something despite my limitations, and focusing on my arms seemed like the best idea. It also was pretty timely, as social distancing became the thing to do… it gave me a challenge I could easily do at home. I decided I wanted to do 30 pushups every day, probably in sets of 10, and see how I felt/looked in one month. Here’s a quick day-by-day accounting of what that process looked like:

Feb 29 – Thought I would do 30 every day, after doing a set of ten, 20 seemed good enough.

Mar 1 – Why am I sore? Oh yeah… I think I should take today off.

Mar 2 – Two sets of 10 in the books!

Mar 3 – Two sets done before work… I was late to work.

Mar 4 – Pushups seemed easier today.

Mar 5 – First set I was able to do 12 – second set of 10 was hard but doable.

Mar 6 – Today was my first day on crutches, I think my arms got enough of a workout.

Mar 7 – Nope.

Mar 8 – Daylight Savings Time, we sprang forward… no pushups but I did get a nap.

Mar 9 – Did a set of 12, then a second set of 8 at lunch break.

Mar 10 – Didn’t happen.

Mar 11 – Two sets of 10, check!

Mar 12-16 – I took an unintended break, stuff has been getting crazy due to the coronavirus! 

Mar 17 – First set of 16 (yeah!) and then a second set of 10. Amazing since I have missed so many days!

Mar 18 – Not today.

Mar 19 – Two sets of 10. 

Mar 20 – Two sets of 10 again.

Mar 21 – 12 pushups and then 10 more. A few sit ups too.

Mar 22 – Rested.

Mar 23 – 20 in a row! (woot woot!) 

Mar 24 – Two sets of 10, plus a little free weight work.

Mar 25 – Took a break, it was Dean’s birthday.

Mar 26 – No pushups, but I did go out for a “ride” on my knee scooter. 

Mar 27 – Two sets of 10. 

Mar 28 – No.

Mar 29 – I thought about it, but was tired.

So… I only did pushups 14 out of the 30 days, which is less than half – so if I was going for a letter grade, I guess I’d get an ‘F.’ But I choose to not look at this as a failure, but as doing pushups 14 more days than I normally would have. And I can always challenge myself again this month to try again, although honestly I think everyday is a bit too much… doesn’t give much time for recovery.

Lastly, if you need some motivating up-beat workout music, check out some of the opening and ending themes from the show Haikyuu – just about every time I did pushups I listened to music from this anime – specifically “I’m a Believer” from Season 2. The kids in the show are so motivated to train (they are on a volleyball team) and I find that their motivation is a bit contagious.

I'm a Believer - Haikyuu!! Second Season OP | Piano Cover ...

Thanks for reading!