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NCCIH Clinical Digest

for health professionals

Mind and Body Approaches for Stress

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January 2016
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Several mind and body approaches, including relaxation techniques, yoga, tai chi, and meditation may be useful for managing symptoms of stress in your patients. For some stress-related conditions, mind and body approaches are used as an adjunct to other forms of treatment. This issue of the digest provides a summary of current evidence on some of these practices for stress and stress-related conditions.

What the Science Says: 

Modality and Summary of Current Evidence

Relaxation Techniques

Relaxation techniques may be helpful in managing a variety of stress-related health conditions, including anxiety associated with ongoing health problems and in those who are having medical procedures. Evidence suggests that relaxation techniques may also provide some benefit on symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, and may help reduce occupational stress in health care workers. For some of these conditions, relaxation techniques are used as an adjunct to other forms of treatment.

Read more about the evidence base of relaxation techniques for stress

Yoga, Tai Chi, and Qi Gong

A range of research has examined the relationship between exercise and depression. Results from a much smaller body of research suggest that exercise may also affect stress and anxiety symptoms. Even less certain is the role of yoga, tai chi, and qi gong—for these and other psychological factors.

Read more about the evidence base of yoga, tai chi, and qi gong for stress

Meditation and Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction

The scientific evidence to date suggests that mindfulness meditation—a mind-body practice which cultivates abilities to maintain focused and clear attention, and develop increased awareness of the present—may help reduce symptoms of stress, including anxiety and depression.

Read more about the evidence base of meditation for stress

Scientific Literature

NCCIH Clinical Digest is a service of the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, NIH, DHHS. NCCIH Clinical Digest, a monthly e-newsletter, offers evidence-based information on complementary health approaches, including scientific literature searches, summaries of NCCIH-funded research, fact sheets for patients, and more.

The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health is dedicated to exploring complementary health products and practices in the context of rigorous science, training complementary health researchers, and disseminating authoritative information to the public and professionals. For additional information, call NCCIH's Clearinghouse toll-free at 1-888-644-6226, or visit the NCCIH Web site at nccih.nih.gov. NCCIH is 1 of 27 institutes and centers at the National Institutes of Health, the Federal focal point for medical research in the United States.

Copyright

Content is in the public domain and may be reprinted, except if marked as copyrighted (©). Please credit the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health as the source. All copyrighted material is the property of its respective owners and may not be reprinted without their permission.

This page last modified January 21, 2016