Your physical health and your mental health are intrinsically linked. They impact each other and have heavy influences on the positive or negative feelings in each. If you’re feeling down or depressed, this can quickly lead to you feeling lethargic or aching. The same can be said if you injure yourself and are in pain. This has an effect on your mental well-being.
Our backs are certainly an area directly linked to mental health. They are the lynchpin that holds the rest of our body together. They help us stand, sit, walk, run, exercise, and are constantly adjusting to keep our posture correct. They’re also a special case in that they harbor a great deal of our mental stresses.
The psychological impact of back pain
Back pain is something that millions of us deal with every day. It can feel all-encompassing, intrudes into our daily lives, and is a constant distraction. Having to persistently manage this source of pain can cause major mental health issues such as depression or anxiety. The situation can be worsened by those already suffering from those mental health disorders. Those people might feel that their pain is more acute and suffer from a lack of coping mechanisms.
This interconnectedness means that taking care of our backs can have a net benefit for our mental health, and the reverse is true too. The more that we are able to prevent physical pain, the more we can prevent the negative mental health issues associated with it. When we realize that everything is linked together and that one impacts the other, we’re more likely to take care of both.
4 critical back care tips
Taking care of, and maintaining, a healthy back may help you feel great physically, and help safeguard your mental health too.
Our posture – how we sit and stand – has a mighty impact on the health of our back. A huge number of us spend our days sitting at desks typing on computers. That means our back posture must be correct that whole time, otherwise we risk damaging our spine. The simple approach is to have a straight back, relaxed shoulders, and a neck alignment that matches your spine.
If you’re sitting at your desk for extended periods, try to get up and stretch or walk around at least once every hour. Ideally, do it every 20 minutes. You should also use a desk and chair that help support your back. It’s definitely tempting to pick based solely on aesthetics, but that’s not always the best choice for your back.
The best thing you can do for your back is to exercise. Low-impact exercises and stretching are the best options. They include yoga, Pilates, swimming, walking, and light gym work. Don’t attempt heavy lifting until you’re sure that your back is feeling strong enough. Too early and you might exacerbate the symptoms even further.
The major benefit of exercise is that it makes you feel great mentally too. The release of endorphins is a powerful painkiller and mood lifter for the body. Exercise really is the best medicine.
Mindfulness exercises can have a profound impact on your mental well-being. They can cause you to really relax, which is great mentally, but may also ease strains and pains in your back. The less stressed that you feel, the better you’ll feel physically and mentally.
Visit a chiropractor
Visiting a chiropractor can feel magical. These doctors are able to find the source of the pain, manipulate your spine or other joints, and begin to treat it. It’s not quite a magic pill, where one visit ends all that ails you, but with a course of chiropractic care, you could be pain-free eventually.
Physical pain begets mental health issues. Properly treating your back pain may help ease your mental strain.
- If you’re in doubt, always seek professional advice.
- Ensure that your workstation is set up to care for your back; it’s where you spend a great deal of your time.
- Regular exercise is one of the best preventative measures for physical and mental health issues.
Robert Haynes, a psychology graduate from the University of Hertfordshire, has a keen interest in the fields of mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.