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Mental Health is Physical Health

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Beth Anstandig

We’re in the middle of a profound mental health crisis and it stems from not taking care of our mammal needs and not attending to the stress in our relationships.

Psychological needs are physical needs because if we don’t feel psychologically safe, we experience a biological reaction. Our psychology informs our physiology, and our physiology informs our psychology. It’s hard to separate the two, because they’re interconnected. That’s why mental health is physical health. And our body is a signal system for both.

But too often we check our animal body at the door. We ignore the signals our body sends us about what’s happening within and around us. All day long our body sends us signals about pressure, trying to tell us to make little adjustments so we can be in a state of ease and conserve energy.

This is mammal life. It’s the way herd animals live. But as human animals we’re distracted by our thinking and our talking. We get pulled into tactical behaviors, doing things while disconnecting from our own bodies.

When we don’t listen to our own needs, we don’t attend to them. Or we hear them but debate or negotiate with our needs ultimately deciding to push through and ignore them. When that happens, we’re not fully present. We become impaired mammals who continue to carry pressure, which becomes tension and stress, and eventually trauma.

When we reach that point, we’re flooded and overwhelmed. Or we go numb. We run on autopilot with so much pressure that our system dulls our sensitivity and in doing so kills our creativity and empathy. We’re less aware of what’s happening around us and we’re less responsive.

That’s the trajectory of stress injuries and mental health problems. If we’re not working on maintaining ease, we’re moving toward disease.

Mental health is a major healthcare issue and the costs for treatment outweigh the costs for building positive support systems. It’s time to wake up and utilize the Natural Leadership instincts and skills inherent to us as mammals including our signals, sensations, and sensors about well-being and needs.  We must return to our human animal, the inner mammal, we lost as we became busy adults.

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