How Physical Health Affects Mental Wellbeing

Physical health is linked to mental wellbeing. Here’s why understanding this connection is important and what you can do to help boost overall workplace wellbeing.

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Health Assured team

02 October 2018

Taking care of mental health in the workplace can be done in a number of ways, including through stress management training and counselling services. But, what is often overlooked is our physical health and the effect it might be having on our mental wellbeing.

Workplace wellbeing is far more achievable if it is approached holistically, in order to understand the link between mind and body.

This means physical injuries or symptoms can influence what we think, how we feel and what we do. It also means that thoughts and feelings can affect our bodies and how we feel physically. In fact, studies by Mental Health Foundation have found that serious mental health conditions such as depression are linked to serious illnesses such as heart disease and cancer.

Understanding this link lets us manage the symptoms of ill mental or physical health better as well as finding preventative measures when taking care of our mental health and overall wellbeing.

Here are a few things you can encourage in the workplace to improve and maintain the physical and overall wellbeing of your employees.

Inspiring general wellbeing

Physical Movement

Whether it’s a brisk walk during breaktime, walking or cycling to work or joining the gym, physical movement in all its forms has proven to be a fail-safe method for boosting mental health.

Not only does exercise lead to the brain producing more serotonin, it also leads to other benefits such as strength, good posture and weight loss, which can bring about its own set of positive effects on a person’s mood and general wellbeing.

Some workplaces offer cycle to work schemes, while others negotiate discounts for groups of people at their local gym. However, encouraging exercise does not have to be another business expense and can be something as simple as giving long enough breaks so employees are able to take a walk.


Research shows that what we eat affects our physical and mental health. But with so much research out there about what we should and shouldn’t eat, reaching optimum health through diet can be an expensive and time-consuming effort.

There are however, a few changes you can make in the working environment that will help your employees make healthier choices. For example, keeping fresh fruit in the office instead of sweets or pastries will give staff something to keep their energy up until their break or get them through the last hour of work.

Most of us depend on caffeinated drinks to stay focused, but allowing staff to take a few minutes in between tasks for a quick reset does just as much good for maintaining concentration as a cup of coffee.


Nicotine reduces the natural production of the feel-good chemical, dopamine. But because smoking is highly addictive and considered a personal choice by those who smoke, drastic actions against smoking may lead to resentment and bad relationships with staff.

However, talking about the effects of nicotine on mental health can help a ‘quitter’ understand why they are feeling the way they do when, and if, they do decide to kick the habit.

Providing support to staff who are trying to introduce these lifestyle changes will give them a better chance at succeeding, as they are given the opportunity to make sense of their experience by talking to a wellbeing expert about it.

Find out how an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) can help your staff and organisation with physical and mental wellbeing in the workplace.

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