Head and Heart – The Vital Link Between Physical Health and Mental Wellness

LEAD just hosted its seventh Coffee and Connect, which discussed how improving our physical health can have positive effects on our mental health. Here are some of the main takeaways from the event:

Speaker: Danyelle Hooks

The mind and body aren’t independent. We will look at how improving your sleep, exercise, and diet can lead to better mental health.


  • Sleep is a biomarker for overall health; that is, how well you sleep is roughly correlated with how healthy you are.
  • The amount of sleep you need varies for every person. Some people can thrive on 6 or less hours of sleep, but this is very rare. Most people need from 7 to 8 hours of sleep.
  • How to get better sleep? Go to sleep and wake up at the same time every night.


  • The benefits of exercise are many. Exercise is known to improve self-confidence, prevent cognitive decline, alleviate anxiety, boost brainpower, sharpen memory and reduce stress.
  • In addition, the act of exercising releases endorphins, which are chemicals that create feelings of happiness. 
  • Even a little exercise (20-30 minutes, 4 days per week) will provide these benefits.


  • Eating highly refined or processed foods is linked to an increased likelihood of depression, while eating a whole diet is linked to a reduced likelihood of depression. 
  • Eating 2+ servings of fruits and vegetables a day has been inked with a higher likelihood of functional health. 
  • Try to maintain a ratio of roughly 80% clean foods and 20% junk foods. It isn’t necessary to completely eliminate junk foods from your diet, just shift it so junk foods have only a small place.