Community Connections: Do you focus on fitness for mind and body? |

Community Connections: Do you focus on fitness for mind and body?

Gina Toothaker/For Steamboat Pilot & Today

Remember your last visit to your primary care doctor? Hopefully it hasn’t been so long you’ve forgotten. While you were there, did they ask you questions about depression, anxiety, stress, trauma history and thoughts of suicide? If they did, good for them. If not, it’s probably just a matter of time before these types of questions become the new normal for a medical visit.

The integration of physical and mental health treatment has been in the news for several years, and the impact of mental health on physical wellbeing has been well established. Locally, we have a few medical practices providing models of this kind of Integrated Care.

May is Mental Health Month and the focus this year is raising awareness about the impact of physical health on our mental well-being through the theme Fitness #4Mind4Body. The campaign is meant to educate individuals about how eating healthy foods, gut health, managing stress, exercising and getting enough sleep can go a long way in making you healthy all around.

A healthy lifestyle can help to prevent the onset or worsening of mental health conditions like depression and anxiety, as well as heart disease, diabetes, obesity and other chronic health problems. It can also play a big role in helping people recover from these conditions.

Research on the impact of trauma has shown that experiencing a combination of adverse events in childhood, such as abuse, neglect, domestic violence or someone in the household engaging in criminal behavior to name a few, actually alters a child’s biological system and can lead to chronic illness as an adult and even early death. Biologically-based treatment, which many people mistakenly equate only with medication, can go a long way in mitigating and healing the impacts of these traumatic events.

For example, getting the appropriate amount of exercise will not only help control weight, but improve mental health and help you live longer and healthier. Recent research is also connecting your nutrition and gut health with your mental health. Studies show that the bacteria found in your gastrointestinal tract can be a huge mood influencer.

Sleep also plays a critical role in all aspects of our life and overall health. Getting a good night’s sleep is important to having enough physical and mental energy to take on daily responsibilities. And we all know that stress can have a huge impact on all aspects of our health, so it’s important to take time to focus on stress-reducing activities like meditation or yoga.

Mind Springs Health wants everyone to know that mental illnesses are real, and recovery is always the goal. Getting the appropriate treatment, whether it’s talk therapy, medication or a combination of both is vital. But living a healthy lifestyle, while not always easy, is just as important for our overall wellness and recovery.

For more information on Fitness #4Mind4Body, visit

Have a mental health emergency? Call Mind Springs Health’s 24 hour crisis line at 888-207-4004 or Colorado Crisis Services at 844-493-TALK, or text TALK to 38255.

For more information about Mind Springs Health, Mental Health First Aid, our staff and our services, visit Also, like us on our Facebook page.

Gina Toothaker is a licensed professional counselor, a certified addiction counselor and the program director for Mind Springs Health in Routt and Jackson counties. Mind Springs Health’s mission is: We rebuild lives and inspire hope by providing exceptional mental health and addiction recovery services, strengthening the health and vitality of our communities.

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