Seven Mind-Body Techniques That Help with Depression

By: Dr. Jolene Brighten, licensed Naturopathic Doctor

Mind-body healing techniques can be defined as incorporating mindfulness/meditation and movement into our healthcare routine in order to tap into our bodies’ natural healing abilities and cope with stressors. These techniques have been used for centuries to heal and strengthen our bodies and minds, but it’s only recently that these techniques have been recognized by the scientific and medical communities.

Personally, I use these techniques with my patients for a number of reasons, most notably to help improve mood and outlook during a particularly challenging part of the healing process, or when patients suffer from depression and/or anxiety.1,2 Even better, meditation, breathing, and light movement practices are free or inexpensive and devoid of harmful side effects.

Breathing Techniques. Deep breathing reduces tension and nourishes parasympathetic tone, the “rest and digest” aspect of our nervous system. Try the Pranayama guided breathing app.

Tai Chi. This practice focuses on gentle movements while creating a rooted connection to the earth. Both the movements and breath work create a sense of focus and calm.

Qi gong. This practices encompases deep breathing, with relaxing meditative movement.

Progressive Muscle Relaxation. A practice of conscious relaxing and tensing of major muscles in your body allows your body to deeply relax while creating greater awareness of yourself.

Heart Rate Variability (HRV) Biofeedback. Through this training, the breath is matched to a resonate frequency to achieve an optimal level of HRV, which reflects adaptability and intrinsic self regulation.

Mindfulness Meditation. This simple, yet powerful act of focusing on the present moment elicits brain activity changes that foster a positive emotional state. Some popular apps are:

  • Smiling Mind – Guided meditations for all ages.
  • Headspace – Daily guided meditations.
  • Omvana – Free and purchasable meditation and sleep enhancement tracks.

Yoga. Yoga allows you to foster a deeper connection of body, mind and spirit. Through meditative movement and deep breathing, you can promote relaxation and a sense of well-being. Try or simply search for free YouTube videos!

depression screening (1024x683)Dr. Jolene Brighten is a licensed Naturopathic Doctor, author and speaker. She specializes in women’s health, with a focus in autoimmunity and hormonal disorders. Dr. Brighten enjoys navigating the space between conventional and natural medicine, all while working with patients to help them achieve optimum balance, health and a strong sense of empowerment. She invites you to learn more about how you can create your ideal health by visiting