As one of my good ops friends put it, mental wellbeing is all the rage in tech right now. For example, there are countless tech articles and podcasts on topics like managing burnout, finding happiness at work, and staying sane while working remote. More and more companies have dedicated budgets for mental health. In some companies you can even get days off if you're not feeling mentally fit.
This is great, and I do think that mental health is worth the attention it gets. That said, I think we can do much better by focusing on the full picture—human health.
Mental health affects physical health
My mental and emotional state always reflects on my physical state—sometimes in obvious ways, other times in less obvious ones.
Whenever I feel mentally down, I tend to find anything physical harder to do. It's suddenly a chore to exercise, go out for a walk, or even brush my teeth.
Slouching or staying in bed seems like a comfort zone that's too hard to let go of. Even when I do manage to do something physical, I've noticed I'm much more likely to accidentally injure myself.
Does this sound familiar?
Physical health affects mental health
Last week I spent 4 days in bed due to illness. I felt horrible physically. Turning on Slack to say I'm sick felt like torture. I was coughing a lot, couldn't breathe properly, and getting out of bed was an ordeal. My body didn't feel like doing anything except sleeping, but I couldn't even do that.
Something I noticed is that during this time all the insecurities slowly crept in. I was suddenly doubting my skills as a support lead, as a writer of this newsletter, as someone who wanted to help people feel better. All of the things I'm pretty confident and excited about.
My mental health obviously deteriorated along with my physical health. This happens every time I am in pain for a prolonged period of time.
Today, I feel physically better. As I'm writing this, I can say that the mental insecurities silenced their drum beat too.
Remember the last time you were in pain or sick—back pain, knee pain, flu, whatever comes to mind. Could you say with certainty that your mental health was intact while you were physically hurting?
Human health affects humans
Wellbeing is usually split into two distinct categories: mental and physical. I believe the separation is useful for simplifying the complexities of us humans, but I think it is completely useless when it comes to taking care of ourselves.
I'd like to propose that we obsess over human health—a combination of physical and mental wellbeing.
I would love to see mental health articles mention the physical aspect, and vice-versa. I would love to see more education about the interaction between our two sides. I would love to see us care about our whole selves.
I would also like to invite you to consider tending to any physical or mental pain you are experiencing—one might help improve the other.
In other words, tend to your nagging back, shoulder, or neck pain. Find out why it's happening, and work on it the best you can.
Care for your whole self. You are worth it.
Thanks for your time,
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