A new study suggests that while physicians sometimes question patients’ emotional health, psychiatrists are less likely to ask about people’s physical health. The mind-body connection is too powerful to ignore the role of either in determining overall wellbeing. The relationship between physical and emotional health is key in helping teens live happier and healthier lives.
According to the study, “one in five people across the world live with mental illness. Their shorter life expectancy compared to neurotypical people is not explained by suicide, but rather physical health issues associated with mental illness like chronic pain and fatigue, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and lifestyle factors.” Researchers proposed that while it is harder to change people’s brain chemistry that predisposes them to develop mental illness, teaching teens healthy coping skills and healthy habits can be a protective factor against the physical consequences of long-term mental illness. When we feel good physically, we feel better emotionally and can think more clearly about making healthier decisions for our bodies and our minds.
They outlined three lifestyle factors that can be modified to improve health outcomes:
- Increased Physical Activity
Exercise offers many benefits towards the brain and functioning of the nervous system. Studies show that there are lower anxiety and depression rates in those who exercise regularly. Improving their physical health has immeasurable effects on their mood, self-esteem, and sense of self-efficacy.
At Solstice, students participate in regular workouts, developing fitness goals aimed at improving their cardiovascular fitness, strength, and flexibility. Our students participate in daily aerobic workouts including running, biking, and aerobic classes. Other weekly workouts include Yoga, Pilates, Zumba, and boot camp. Our adventure therapy program offers activities like alpine skiing and snowboarding, cross country skiing, rock climbing, canoeing and kayaking, white water rafting, hiking, biking, and camping.
- Improved Nutrition
Diet plays a huge role in one’s overall mental health and wellbeing. Studies show that a diet high in sugar and processed carbs can increase one’s risk of depression. Individuals should prioritize eating foods like fresh fruit, vegetables, nuts, and fish which have a beneficial impact on mood and body.
Students at Solstice help with meal planning and meal preparation to help learn this important life skill. With education, self-awareness, and journal keeping, our students come to recognize the impact diet choices have on emotional state and mood changes. In addition to classes on nutrition, we talk a lot about body image and intuitive eating to fight beauty standards and the wars girls wage against their bodies.
While many people agree that the saying “your body is a temple” encourages preoccupation with body image, there is some validity in the phrase encouraging awareness of what enters your body. Although unhealthy habits like smoking and using substances may be used to cope or to socialize with others and seem less direct than factors like physical activity and nutrition, they can have a significant impact on your body over time. We encourage teens to develop healthier habits not because they are safer but because they empower them to become more confident and successful adults.
We don’t believe physical health is a reflection of a healthy weight, but rather a healthy relationship with your body. Self-care can look like a lot of things—from taking breaks to setting boundaries and from creative expression to moments of self-reflection.
Solstice RTC Can Help
Solstice West RTC is a residential treatment center for young girls ages 14-18 who struggle with issues such as anxiety, depression, trauma, and relationship struggles. Solstice West is dedicated to teaching young women how to incorporate healthy habits into their lives. Students will leave with the skills they need to transition into the world feeling confident, happy, and able to manage their emotions.
Contact us at 866-278-3345 to learn more about our emphasis on physical health. We can help your family today!