New research into the nation’s health habits has revealed that Brits choose to spend more than twice as much time and money on activities to improve their physical health compared to their mental wellbeing. This is despite 70% of the UK saying they believe mental and physical wellbeing are as important as one another.
The study by Forest Holidays discovered that, on average, people spend £63.85 and eight hours and 38 minutes of their time each month on physical activities such as training at the gym, cycling and swimming. In contrast, only £29.94 and three hours and 53 minutes were spent each month on activities designed to improve mental wellbeing, such as meditation, life coaching, and going for a walk amongst nature. More than a quarter of Brits (27%) also said they wouldn’t know how to improve their mental wellbeing.
Prioritising bodies over minds
Sara Warber, MD, Professor of Family Medicine at the University of Michigan and Honorary Professor at the University of Exeter Medical School explains why these findings are important:
“Our mental wellbeing should never take second place to our physical health. Humans are complex beings where our physical and mental wellbeing work in tandem to create a healthy whole. If either part isn’t properly looked after, it’s likely that the other will also suffer.
“Due to a greater amount of public health advice around physical activity, there is a cultural acceptance of prioritising physical health over mental wellbeing. There are also visible motivators like the fear of obesity and the improved feelings one gets from being and looking stronger, which don’t exist in the same way for mental wellbeing. Social media is also a strong motivator as it creates a reinforcing community around whatever activities one undertakes and ‘brags’ about.
“Prioritising physical health over mental wellbeing could mean we’re potentially opening ourselves up to bigger health problems in the future, and could set an unhealthy precedent for future generations.”