This post is a day late for World Mental Health Day. But, better late than never. You may ask why post about mental health on a physical therapy website. Well there are a couple reasons.
One is if you notice how many things in the infographic is how many things that affect our mental health are physical/biological in nature. Taking walks, exercise, eating well, getting outdoors, and doing things we enjoy are physical things that can affect our mental health and emotional state.
The second is that pain and injury can be looked at through a biopsychosocial lens.
Whether you have a minor sports injury, are recovering from a surgery, or dealing with a long term pain issue, we cannot separate biology, psychology, and sociology. They all affect and play off each other. Both in negative and positive ways. We tend to think of our bodies as machines, and that when we are injured or in pain, we need to discover the broken part and repair it, or activate it, or put it back in place. In reality, we are much more complex than that.
When we have physical things happen it affects our psychology. We worry about it. We may lose some of our stress relieving activities. It may place other stress on us, because our job or family life is affected. We may fear what will happen, or get angry about letting it happen. We may lose sleep.
When we have physical things happen, it may affect our social structure. If we can’t do our sports or go to work, we may lose connection with people we enjoy. It may change roles in our family from care giver to patient, or provider to dependent. Our family may struggle with you not being yourself, and you may struggle with not being yourself.
Changes in psychological and social situations then can have a feedback loop with our physical state. We can have more stress chemicals in our body. We can lose sleep. We can become fatigued. Our nervous system can become more sensitized. This can lead to more pain.
You might be able to see how these different factors can affect each other and complicate an injury recovery. The good news is we have some power over these. We can be aware of the changes, and try to change the things we can. Figure out ways to be the parent, spouse or friend you want to be despite being injured. Get what exercise you can. Be outside. Do creative, enjoyable things. Whether you have an injury or not, paying attention to your whole self can make things better.
If you have any questions, or examples of how the biopsychosocial model of health has affected you, post a comment or drop me a line at Keith@ascent-pt.com